Yesterday, I huddled beside the espresso machine at work and watched plump snowflakes slather themselves across parked cars, fences, hoods, pushchairs, scaffolding and an abandoned bicycle. Thick and clotting like poured cream, it smoothed the glaciers creeping across pavements and drew lacy gloves over the trees’ naked fingers.
I step out prepared for impertinent cold to slap me and run away giggling. Impertinent was yesterday. A new beast wraps around my legs as if my jeans aren’t there and holds my hand like death. Five minutes later I fumble keys and wrestle the black steel portcullis. Each routine gesture has new significance. Muscles contract like tormented snails. If my stomach could hide behind my spine, it would. Nerves tremble at destiny. I am 60% water; I should freeze.
At minus 12 the condensed breath of the city is pinned, molecule by molecule, against the brittle milkblue sky. It is illusive-soft as a whorl of liquid nitrogen. Put your hand to it and flesh crackles as if in flame. We huddle in the cupped palms of this inhuman splendour. Twitch gluttonous eyes at the frosted parabola of a hill, the wink of an stalactite. Behind ice’s poor imitator, we burrow for warmth in slabs of chocolate cake, chase it in creamy coffee swirls.