literature poetry Literature

The Snowman

By Asiya Zahoor | 1 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 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.


One thought on “The Snowman”

Wow! I stumbled upon this poem on a cold winter night. It’s a wonderful free verse describing the pain of our fellow human beings living in the most beautiful, yet painful part of the country.

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