It used to settle on the crowns of trees

unevenly, so that gravity or a breeze

could make a fringe fall down,

the fluttering particles meeting their two-

dimensional shadows, off-

white occluding off-white.


Children could scoop it up

in disposable clear plastic cups

for later use, keeping it safe

in something called a freezer.

They would add sugar on top

or drops of harmless

coloring, so that the cup

would gradually turn red,

or green, or pink, or gold.


Left undisturbed, it softened

then over a night became ice,

and might crack under your foot,

or else support your weight,

if it had been cold long enough.


Sometimes it arrived

as early as October

and stayed here until February at least.


Deer used to leave

their tracks in it: little

divots, little less-

than-desperate explorers,

naïve enough to be afraid of wolves.





Cover of TLR's "Chemistry" issue with cover art by Wayne Chang

Stephanie Burt is professor of English at Harvard and the author of several books of poetry and literary criticism, most recently Advice from the Lights and The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them.

Snow first appeared in TLR Chemistry.