Poets and scientists are creative, curious and alive to the world around them, even if others are not.
i.m. Snowflake Bentley (1865–1931)
Who knows how it started, his passion
for snow. Was it the first flake fluttering
on eyelash or melting fast on palm
so that he turned from summer calm
longing for sky to freeze
wanting snow to whirl
to feel winter on eyes and lips?
When neighbours shut cows in barns
closed doors in dread, Bentley laid aside
his spade, ignoring his father’s cry,
‘We cannot eat a snowflake Wilson.’
He set up camera and microscope
in his shed and captured the world’s
first photograph of an ice crystal.
Neighbours called out, ‘Snowflakes
can’t be planted, harvested or eaten.
Fool.’ Schoolboys made faces
behind his back, pointed fingers
at his summer shiny suit
green with age. His dark winter
coat, felt hat tied on to his head,
red scarf covering his ears.
The villagers of Jericho refused to watch
Bentley’s magic lantern show.
Snowflakes — each one different from the rest.
‘I thought they’d be glad,’ he said.
Acknowledgement: ‘The Snowflake Man’. Duncan C Blanchard (1970), Jericho Historical Society, Jericho, Vermont, USA
First published ARTEMISpoetry, 23 November 2019