• Moya Pacey

Poets and scientists are creative, curious and alive to the world around them, even if others are not.


Snow flying

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. 


Moya Pacey



Acknowledgement: ‘The Snowflake Man’. Duncan C Blanchard (1970), Jericho Historical Society, Jericho, Vermont, USA

First published ARTEMISpoetry, 23 November 2019