Narnia

December 7, 2016

On the eve of my 23rd birthday, I go to sleep in Mainz. I wake up in Narnia.

No sun rises to tint the valley. The glen is a silver gelatin print emerging from white paper, shapes writing themselves over the new snow, a monochromatic dawning. Winter washes the morning in every shade of silver: sleeping-moth, haze-light, rabbit fur, frosted glass, dandelion, bruised moonflower, mother of pearl.

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Winter cobwebs the world, softening all the edges. The sky is a cocoon adrift in the winds, marooned. Or a great white eye dreaming feather-dreams beneath silk cataracts. Or wax painted over a mirror in thin sheets. My birthday sky is the color of sleep, amnesia, ghosts, and my grandfather’s hair.

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Trees blossom with ice-flowers, whiter than April bloom and lacier than May. My path through the glen is braided with tiny footprints, threaded like beads on white velvet ribbon. The pond is a shard of quartz, ashen amongst the reeds. Mr. Magpie has left his nest without a note to tell when he’ll return.

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Winter’s first snow has candied the city. White frosting trims the eaves and windows are ice-glazed. Sugared berries sparkle on thorn bushes and every pine needle has been dipped in icing. The candied city glitters in the winter-chill. Locked in December’s icebox, Mainz won’t melt until March.

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Every gilded sprig, every enameled pool, every pearly berry, every ice-fringed branch, every sugared hazel leaf, every snow-crowned thistle, every alabaster birch, every silvered blade of grass wears its light on the outside.

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In candlelit chiaroscuro, my friends sing to me in the languages of their childhood birthday parties: first a chocolate fudge chorus of Happy Birthday, then Zum Geburtstag viel Glück sprinkled with giggles, Joyeux Anniversaire à la mode, and for dessert a caramel-drizzled Cumpleaños Feliz. In Narnia it is always winter and never Christmas, but at least we have birthdays and ice-flowers to light the night.

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