An Environmental History Magazine

The Shape of Snowflakes

Enki Inkpen, 2022

She told me not to trust the ice 
In the narrow place. 
Is this the ebbs and flows? 
Or is this the change? 
I am drawn to all that is delicate,
The places where time is thin, 
Bonded by the line of light between clouds and sky.
I am caught in spirals, 
Feel rushed down, 
But the Earth has no time 
To wait for me now. 
Perhaps when we came to understand 
The flow of glaciers 
We thought we had to rival their brute path
In our brief lives. 
Cut crisp as I fall, 
Embroiled in the negotiation of civilisation
And the petty grandiosity of survival, 
I am scared 
Of how clocks define edges; 
Ice crystal lattices 
Bitterly obey their brute pace, 
Spirals are made metronome, 
And the delicate harmonies of impermanence
Drip down a forgotten face. 
Drawn to all that is delicate 
I am caught in spirals 
Cut crisp as I fall 
In the shape of snowflakes. 
In the shape of snowflakes 
There is promise of an end 
Edges defined 
By whims of clouds. 
Drawn to the thin places 
I know no land within me 
But I remember how 
Settled snow frees me to fall 
Without a care, 
Serenity held in place 
By the knowledge of a brevity
Between the tick of a clock.
Depending on the whim of clouds
My life can be anywhere between
Touch and eternal. 
Maybe none of us will last forever

It’s the bitter-melt promise of an end
For edges define us,
Too bonded to be deemed distinct,
Yet too distinct to be remembered as bonds;
Lattices of me and your delicate promise,
Spirals of us and the land. 
See how I am held between time 
By crisp ice crystals 
And infinite serenity cannot exist.
Oh is this the sign? 
Is this to be mourned? 
In the narrow place 
She told me not to trust the ice.


Photograph by Enki Inkpen
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