Who might know, some snow-god, possibly,
the weight of those Hokkaidō winters:
I mean, you could calculate it,
based on a mean six meters of snow,
knowing the weight of one cubic meter,
and the island’s surface area (just over
a fifth of Japan’s total), then times it
somehow by time, half my nine years there.
You could work that out, but that’s before
you add in temperature, even though so far
and for so long below zero,
and add in the lashing dragon-toothed wind,
the slashing rain tumbling in, dragging out,
add in the loss of opportunity,
the number of masked and hooded figures
you passed who will stay ever anonymous;
but even then, amalgamating all that,
it still wouldn’t come close
to the total of what I really mean,
when every snow dawn would break
with the weight of an angel struck from its wings.
Iain Twiddy studied literature at university and lived for several years in northern Japan. His poetry has appeared in Harvard Review, Salamander, The Blue Mountain Review, The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine, and elsewhere. He has written two critical studies, Pastoral Elegy in Contemporary British and Irish Poetry and Cancer Poetry.