Tuesday Poem - Winter Light

The season is wintering in.

Horizontal light
laid in long bars
across the russeting slope

the contours of the land
the fierce geography of rock
the patterning of sheep through bracken

lipped water-marks on sand

The mountain’s shadow
bruises the lake.

The cold is like loss:
a cramping hold on bone
muscle, thought,
spilling in from the east.

The air tastes metallic
like snow dissolving on the tongue.

This is the death month
December's Druid alphabet
that signified

the rebirth of the spirit.

An ash tree clumsy with unshed seeds,
a deer’s teeth grooved on the bark
a snowdrop spiking up through a dead leaf

And then the falling sun herds
the rocks into the long shadow
of winter night.

Feeling very wintry here in the north of England with temperatures diving below -15 at night and lots of snow and ice.   The poem is only a series of observations really - I need to do more work on it.  The photograph is of ice crystals on glass with the sun behind - taken this morning outside my office.

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  1. Kathleen, I love this, both its strong foothold in reality (the series of observations) juxtaposed with the mythic elements that to me weave it into poetry, that 'something more' that infuses haiku, for example. And lines like:

    "The mountain’s shadow
    bruises the lake"

    make me shiver: I can definitely see it.

    I really like the photo, too.

  2. Lovely.
    I'm shivering in sympathy.

    the mountain's shadow
    bruises the lake

    I can see it, lovely.

  3. ha ha,
    before you accuse me of plagiarising Helen, I just glanced at the other comments now and saw she wrote almost the same thing!

  4. Some lovely moments in this poem, and yes, even here in the warm summer evening it's enough to make the teeth ache (see avoided the popular shiver :) beautiful.

  5. Ah! I posted a wintery snow-filled poem this week, too! What synchronicity. The desolation and bleakness of landscape in this poem is utterly striking, Kathleen. I love the line 'The cold is like loss'. Thanks for posting!

  6. Thanks for your feedback everyone. I've been editing the poem since I posted it - strange how the act of publication makes you see things differently - and I've altered some of the line breaks and changed the wording slightly. But I've kept the lines you liked just the same.

  7. how wonderful here is
    the fierce geography of rock...

    and also your evocation of the fissures of good and bad experiencces of the deep cold

    and also the sense here of a poem evolving and modifying itself on the post before us


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