We do have snow today, a mere icing sugar sift over the garden, already melting and inclined to slush. More is forecast tonight, and temperatures will drop to -5 (Centigrade – if you are in the US, this is a relatively balmy 25 degrees, but it’s increasingly rare here). But just now it is above freezing, and as I came in from the supermarket, there was a great tit singing as if spring had already been promised.
Just two degrees of difference.
The air softens and dulls, grass blurs.
The privet heights are quick with sparrow-bustle,
blackbird hop, wren flit, a new colony
born in craic and kerfuffle.
A great tit trapezes birch-stems
nibbling the catkin sheaths,
the see-saw strop of ‘teacher, teacher,’
sharpens the morning, adding fizz
to spring’s still coolness.
Ebb-tide is swimming with ducks,
upended, spinning, suddenly noisy.
Paired swans, humped leavings of snow,
melt into the drained river.
The slick banks slump into silty furrows.
Damp is gathering with the first drift of rain.
Earth relaxes ice-bound muscles,
lets out the sharp sour stink of thaw –
mud and leaf-mould, and frost-burned grass
collapsing into wetness, rot, fertility.
This poem comes from Wherever We Live Now, my first collection which came out in 2011. It is officially out of print, but I do have a few copies here. The same goes for The Territory of Rain, which seems to be getting a bit of attention, because it is the collection that is most landscape based of all my work. This poem featured in The Nature Library’s most recent newsletter.
A House for Winter
The sky opens blue windows
between shutters of grey cloud.
Winter peers in.
Brittle sunshine slants
between skeletonised trees,
thin relict leaves at twig tips.
A breath of frost melts
on the cold frame, split curls
of seedpods glued to the glass.
The dark glassy river is choked
with panes of broken ice,
curdled with falls of new snow.
The warm pigeon-feathered hollow
between railway bridge and river,
is a pot a-bubble with soft coos.
A white snow-mist climbs
the black walls of the hill.
Winter settles in.
I am getting mixed messages from the weather today, as in so much else!