The Snowman

01 November, 2014

ABOUT THE POEM In this work by Asiya Zahoor, a slowly melting snowman appears in a landscape full of violence and suffering. Its dissolution is not just real but rhetorical: it sends the speaker tumbling into the past of her civilisation, and into revelatory visions and metamorphoses.

The Snowman

by Asiya Zahoor

That winter, the city stood quiet

Wearing a black curfew, over vast stretches of white snow

Everyone lodged at home, but for a score of boys…

Stones turned into gods, as they hurled them up in the air

One big noise…

And the land became childless again

My eyes jumped out of the window to meet

The charcoal eyes of the snowman

The round sun had melted half its arm

And reduced the shoulders

But the eyes remained stern and stoic

The broken glass pane stood between us,

Like a wall of pain dividing man from the angels

Mother patiently waited for the curfew relaxation hour

When the soldiers would leave the possessed town

And Father would rush to the shops for milk and bread

But in that hour

I ran…

I wanted to weigh

The heaviness of the snow against my heart

And me, the crazy Hemal

Questioned the drooping snowman

About his unshared dreams

The lips made from carrots

Refused to move

Still dead-quiet,

Then suddenly the snow turned into milk

And the milk morphed into a shriek

And like the privileged King of serpents

The snowman slipped away into the bowels of the earth.

With liquid hands, I followed him into the underworld

for years I wept my eyes away

And when I found him I turned into ash

They threw me into a hot spring

I was raised as a bird

In Yaarvan forest

On a pine tree I sang of my loss

Habba Khatoon too might have sung here among these pines

of tyrannies of the king and agonies of love

But it is time that divides us

For hundreds of years, all the metaphors have frozen

Now they keep falling off, leaving gaping holes in my poem

I need to mend them

when I am done with

stitching my tattered pheran

And the million shreds of my torn-off soul

Asiya Zahoor Asiya Zahoor teaches at a college in her hometown, Baramulla, in Kashmir. A linguist by training, she recently started the website Bol Bosh ( to help keep alive the various languages spoken in Kashmir.