Karen S. Bennett

Our Lady of the Snows

by Karen S. Bennett
Gunpowder Review 2009

Toting a, just barely, portable new TV set, I stepped off the city bus into five inches of snow, which had refrozen into uneven boot trenches. To keep my center of balance, I clutched the parcel close to my chest and trudged victoriously homeward. The kids were tolerating a babysitter, anticipating the long awaited booty this new TV would provide.

Nearly home, I noticed a yellow disk of light from a street lamp which shone on blown-open pages of a girly magazine, partially cemented in the snow under a striped frosted boot print. The open pages, shivering and rippling in the wintry night gusts, cast a dark shadow on the sparkling white background. The image on the glossy page stopped me in my actual tracks. The centerfold featured a naked woman, who appeared all the more naked and conspicuous by being framed in snow in the night. Oblivious to me, invading a private moment, she smiled confidently to that certain someone, not shown in the photo.

Poor girl, how cold she looked. But wait. She was not a bit cold, she was warm. She was very warm. I wanted to bend down to look at her, but while holding the boxed TV, my arms were stretched to their limits. I could not find any position for viewing the envied lady. By twisting at my waist and tipping a little sideways, I was able to peek over the top corner of the cardboard box to behold a vision of such loveliness, so uncorrupted by the surrounding shabby buildings and broken sidewalks, now covered by snow. 

Rooted ankle deep in snow, with wind spinning little eddies of biting crystals about my face; I was a snowy statue feasting on the vision of photo-retouched perfection in glowing skin.

The photo was not pornographic but was an artist’s appreciation of feminine pulchritude. The woman’s long and velvety contour was bathed in a warm orange light placed low in the picture to affect the ambiance of a nearby firelight. She lay on her right flank, cushioned on thick silvery, grey-tipped furs. Positioned longitudinally, she was elegantly and gracefully long of leg. She extended her ivory hand, cupping a delicate goblet, half filled with a warm, rosy draught.

Her facial profile was chin-up and confident. She was not the least bit ashamed of, or even aware of her nakedness, and she was certainly unaware of the snow. Her tangerine glossed lips were slightly open as she answered “Yes” with a knowing smile. Her glistening eyes and curved lashes promised pleasurable events to follow.

I was particularly taken with how ‘dressed’ and decent she appeared to be, even though the only thing she wore outside the prerequisite smile was a deep blue-green feathery earring. The feathers covered most of her ear, reaching back to caress her short pale auburn hair which curled close to her comely, glowing face.

Masculine eyes would have lingered over other parts of her flawless body, but I was totally transfixed on her jewelry. Here was a nude woman made decent and beyond that, even tasteful in firelight by wearing a large turquoise, feathered earring.

Our Lady of the Snows. What did she have that I didn’t have?

EARRINGS! I had a private “ah-hah” moment, if you will. Earrings appeared to be the perfect fashion accessory to nudity. Earrings; the accoutrement to spontaneous preparedness. I already had the tousled hair and all the appropriate body parts. Earrings had been missing. Just think of it. Easy as that – pierced ears and earrings.

I left the scene of my personal awakening and epiphany in that disk of street light shining on trampled snow. I could not have anticipated that this work-a-day shopping trip would provide me, mother of three, and presently bereft of one to whom I could lift a goblet, the burning necessity to have my ears pierced.

Next week when the babysitter and the kids entertained themselves with the new TV, I would take the opportunity, perhaps better said, I would answer the emergency of having my ears pierced and purchasing a panoply of earrings. Ahhh, yes, earrings.

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