Published on Academy of American Poets (

Snow White

I dreamt I woke in winter—
even the river
silent, its tongue caught mid-
sentence, like mine
when someone looks at me
too closely. It had been years

since I understood winter
so well I knew it to be inside
my own bone-cage, since I had
smelled that kind of white.

White of the frozen rabbit
my spaniel dragged in from the back
yard, white of horse-breath in the barn,
white of birds so desperate
for seed they pretend colorlessness—

except the cardinal, drop of heat,
too neat to be blood, too brave
to be symbol. I woke in winter

and almost-knew what I had always
almost-known, back in those dark
five o’clock walks home for dinner:

something about loneliness living
in the well of the throat, something
about fur and burrowing
and black eyes
waiting for the thaw.


Copyright © 2017 Katherine Riegel. “Snow White” originally appeared in Orion. Used with permission of the author.



Katherine Riegel

Katherine Riegel is the author of two poetry collections, What the Mouth Was Made For (FutureCycle Press, 2013) and Castaway (FutureCycle Press, 2010). She is the cofounder and poetry editor of Sweet: A Literary Confection.

Date Published: 2018-03-23

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