By Peter Halstead

The properties of particles occur in pairs.

If we extrapolate the game
Where every snowflake's not the same,
Where copying is not allowed
And where, in blizzards, two's a crowd,
Where every strand of DNA's
Made to hunt for matching strays,
Knowing in its heart of hearts
Precisely which atomic parts
The universe has yet to fake—
That undiscovered flake
Which, being instantaneously built,
Engenders universal guilt
And is shunned by just the sleet
That gave it patterns to repeat,
As if the ice-cold eyes
Of snow are nothing more than spies,
Architects who must be killed
When the galaxy is filled,
Stars lobotomized by sudden fame
(Snow by any shape would look the same),
As if automotive genes could care
That a spoke might need a spare,
Or that an axle might require
For its ends a second tire—
But if the absence of an also-ran
Is actually a master plan,
And the random nature of the earth
Isn't random when it turns to birth
(How spontaneous is it when you
Have to order from the menu),
When disorder needs a list,
A catalogue to deny its gist,
And single chaos so depends
On plural structures for its ends
That the snow, inflated air,
Controls the sex life of a pair
That might like eyes just touch
Some other eyes as much
As any one of those
Infinite and sightless snows—
How selfish then to say the twin
Is nature's kind of alien,
Rejecting what lone couples might
Flow from cloning at first sight.

Alta, Utah
Cisco, Nantucket
Thursday, April 4th, 1991, 3:52 PM


“Sublimation” is a somewhat metaphysical poem I wrote to justify marriage through snowflakes. Although the properties of small particles may come in matched pairs as scientists have claimed, snowflakes are complex dendrite geodes comprised of many particles, and lovers would be twinned deep inside the otherwise unique larger construction.
In playing the devil’s advocate, trying to heap scorn and illogic upon the single snowflake theory in language I hope is somewhat simple, playing, as Beethoven said, “the most fiery things the most coolly,” I hope in the end that the accumulated weight of the arguments will create a launching pad strong enough to make the final absurd leap of faith toward love, as this extended sonnet contradicts itself in the last few lines. I can understand anyone might currently reside in the other, more cynical, camp, as I’ve been myself. But, arm ourselves as we may against them, lifetime passions have a way of flaring up every now and then.

Alta, Utah
Cisco, Nantucket
Thursday, April 4th, 1991, 3:52 PM