Orla Fay

A History of Snow

1982. We waited in the kitchen.

They went to check on a neighbour.

Would they get caught in the drifts?

I fell asleep. The Hamco. The Big Snow.


In school watching out the Georgian

windows for the first flakes,

the surge of excitement when they fell

swept away all thought of work.


The lane was covered with frost,

puddles wore pale faces. We practised

how far we could slide, falling,

cracking elbows, bruising legs.


Making a snowman knuckles and fingers

numb, the mittens gone, socks on hands

searching for a carrot and pebbles.

Wham singing Last Christmas.


Back pinned to a warm radiator in the convent.

The 90s. Nirvana. Carpet coat, navy skirt,

no trousers allowed, tights sometimes,

knee high socks; uniform. Watching breath in air.


The Big Freeze. The ice came in

through the keyhole. The temperature in the car

read -15. A few miles into the journey

the brake pads froze. 2010.


A film of black ice covered the town

after the forewarning of freezing fog

when crows perished, plunging from the sky.

The Morrigan. People fell, casualty was full.


2018. The Beast from the East.

Racing back on the train to get home.

Deer gazed out from the blizzard in the park,

their bright eyes shining. An Cailleach.


The lane was impassable to vehicles,

drifts clung to the ditches and hedges.

We trampled through, ankle deep in wellies,

bringing bread, milk, eggs and Lucozade.



Orla Fay is editor of Boyne Berries. Recently her poetry has appeared in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, ROPES 2019, Impossible Archetype, The Bangor Literary Journal, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Tales From The Forest, Quarryman and FourXFour. She has been previously shortlisted for The Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award, The Dermot Healy Award, The Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award, The Rush Poetry Competition and The Redline Book Festival Poetry Award. This year she was shortlisted for The Cúirt New Writing Prize. She won 3rd prize in The Oliver Goldsmith Poetry Award 2019. Her short story Foxy was published on the incubator selects in April. She is working towards a first collection of poetry. She blogs at http://orlafay.blogspot.com/

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