Ash and Snow

This past winter was a dark one in my life, marked by periods of mourning over loved ones buried and a loneliness more severe than previous snowy seasons. A blessing and tragedy of living far from family is that when crises occurs, I benefit and suffer from a level of detachment due to the distance that separates; I’m no stranger to that sensation and have grown accustomed, perhaps even too comfortable, with my living in my self-prescribed exile. This particular piece was written shortly after my grandmother passed in December and though there isn’t anything especially revealing about the piece, I required some time before being able to share it. My grandmother was a woman bearing such a kind, generous, and warm spirit, and a woman of unshakeable faith; there’s no other person who has made me want to believe in the heavens more than her.

Ash and Snow
Written by Chelsea Marie Hicks

Frailty failed her lungs,
breaths left dangling in the space above her bones,
the dissolved muscles and grey skin drained of its glow–
the absent sting of sunlight an illusion as bold as sunset.

Life rarely leaves lovely behind,
though caskets cling to the remnants
as if at war with soil’s desire to consume.

I’m told there was a mountain behind the funeral procession,
one which begs the imagination to blur colors of ash and snow,
as if they are not the same.

In earth her body lay buried,
wrapped with silk,
drenched in smooth faith.
Her soul in a distant ascension,
legs a reliquary latched to the stairway made of scripture.


Searching For Salt and Finding the Bearded Woman

Written by Chelsea Marie Hicks

I sought the taste of neon in the morning, its glow an apparent absence only present in the irises of night crawlers dripping pale, waiting for the sun.

I searched my skin for treasure troves and salt quarries, only ever finding pieces of paper torn and folded into creases and scars.

I hunted through dreams to days too cold for the scent of tangerines to wet my fingers, or apricots to taint my tongue with sweetness.
There’s no luck for senses seeking fruits in the winter.

When the ice cracked and dripped through drainpipes, I came to find the circus, folding origami flowers out of a field’s colors, somewhere, not here.
The bearded woman grabbed my hand, she said I was an acrobat and not to bend to break. She taught me how to do both.

Whatever rope line led to reality was neither real nor rope nor strands of thickly braided hair, though it resembled all three.
And then, somehow, came the sun.

Winter Resurrection

Oh, how I abandoned you these last few months for what other activities I am not entirely sure. Fortunately, I have found my hands being put back to work with pen and paper scribblings so perhaps I do indeed have more to say. Ice and snow and stinging wind have been my recent curses and after a too long walk through the thick of it, I came to write this piece, which I call fiction though it could just as easily be deemed something else. Cross your fingers, toes and organs that the great thaw comes soon for this seafarer has been frozen for too great a time.

This Was A Winter
Written by Chelsea Marie Hicks

The cold bit me today and I bled red into the snow. It was a faint pink marking like the color of a healed scar on ivory skin, a blotch in the powder blanket that had been deceiving my limbs as to the depth of the ground.

Today I buried my mother in a field somewhere though she had yet to die. We haven’t spoken in years and yet I could feel her pulse slow-ly, slow-ly surrounding me amidst the brittle branches. Perhaps it was her blood, not mine, pinking the white or maybe it was the drippings of the trees sweating to stay firm against the wind.

I couldn’t find the cut that would solve these mysteries and so I trudged in search of a shelter from the up-drifting snow coating the wool of my jacket and highlighting white the chocolate of my hair.

This winter I wanted to be warmed by fire and tea leaves steeping, but there wasn’t a thing that could keep my skin from chipping and my veins from beating cold blood.

This was a winter of ice and shakes and numb fingertips curling to a fist that might be hot.

This was a winter where even the branches scratching my windowpane kept their secrets close.

This was a winter where healing could only begin with a clot.