When I dream of snow that isn’t falling on the faces of bodies in gardens somewhere, those of husbands to wives who will always mourn them, it is always two snows I dream of—the piles of it I built a fort in the day after a blizzard in my youth and the day of my longest drive home from work, last year, when I turn the phone off early because something in me has pushed itself past exhaustion and it isn’t from the drive.
Today’s snow, falling all day, is the fort making kind, bright flakes the boy and I watch through the window around lunch, and I, more excited than him, tell him we can build snow people and snow houses and make snow art, and inside I’m wondering if he’ll be the kind of boy who, like the boy two days after that childhood blizzard, broke holes in my fort’s walls, if he’ll be the kind of boy who, like that one last year, broke holes in me, if he’ll be the kind of boy who is always more interested in breaking than in building, or if he’ll be the kind of person who tries to fix what he’s damaged, who keeps trying all the various methods of repair until he gets it right.
And as I watch him and all that snow out the window, I want a painter who can paint the white the way that today I see it, but on the shelf of art there’s too much color. Only Egon Schiele’s Autumn Tree in Turbulent Air comes close, and for all its pale color there’s a static-ness to it so different from the day’s drifts, the way the wind blows the snow around so heartily that the second floor window is coated in a fine film of it, like lacework on its lattice. And for all that Schiele’s trying to evoke storm all I see is stillness, stone, like those rock-faced walls climbing on either sides of highways I sometimes drive.
I want a painter who can paint white snow the way I see it, dancing, bright, who can paint the boy’s face as he watches it, smiling, bright. So that when I dream of snow I will always dream only of this, the way I show my son how our hands are meant for making instead of breaking. Like that girl child who made windows out of her brother’s holes, who made the shape of his fist into a skylight, said that now at least we’d have more sun. At least broken, we’d let in more light.