Four ages of snow

First, the hush.
The soft cotton-wool drifting
Landing, feet together,
A parachutist behind the lines
At first, a hiss, just faint
On the edge of sound
Then blanket quiet
Hide and seek; under the duvet
Muffled whispers, low breathing
Nothing more

Next the crush.
That swaddling coat
Insulating, hiding, trapping
Winter’s hug; warmth below
Cold above; frigid cold
Like musical statues
Dead still, the White Witch’s curse
That east wind from the Steppe.
And cold sets the snow
Below soles: crunch, crack, creak

The slush; from a world
Of soft edges, smudged details
Comes the hard edge
Of melt; of grime, of grit
Of rubbed-in dirt
Smeared eskers of ice
Trampled by boot and paw, by tyre and tread.
I dream: the crushed ice
Scooped into my Iced Tea
On a far off beach

The gush of melt
Himalaya; Karakoram; Alps
Milk white and blue streams
Suspensions of dust rippling away
Down the edges of highways.
No bright painted bunting here
No mountain sanctuaries
Not here in this Mercian street
Where all joy of Saturnalia has passed
We wait for the Equinox


Winter morning, the uneven flags
Crisp with rime
Champ beneath my feet
Crinkle-edged blades of verge-grass,
Like knives before the whetstone
Shatter beneath my tread
My passing marked, as if through snow
Or low tide mud in the creek
I crest the humpback hill
Away, on the short horizon a foreglow
Uplights, like on some historic Pile
Illuminate the trees root-up
A dusky radiance, the early morning
Dust alight, sparking like shards
Of blackened wick flaring upon the match
The trees, like phantoms, or ghosts
Black forms with flickering sharp edges
I walk towards their back lit forms
And as the sun’s warm fingers
De-ices the fields
I become one with them


They’re talking about building again,
Building on the floodplains
But it’s plain to see
That the floodplains flood.
Take today, for Heaven’s sake,
Breathing in across the Bailey Bridge
The river bankfull below
The water benignly still
In touching distance, calling out
An illusion – look closely;
Look closely at the ruckus,
The swirls on the surface
The whirls of pent-up energy
The commotion of power
The tumult of excess
Sicked off the hills
Like hot soup rolling in the pan.
If there was a levee, it’s gone
The old ox-bow, gone too
The cycle path, lost to the sea;
Only the swans are joyful
In their new meres; soon gone too
Flooded from plain sight
Snapped up by the river’s thirst
Smothered below a duvet
Asphyxiated by branches, roots, silt,
It’s where the shopping trollies go to die
It’s where they turn up
When the flood subsides
Cock-eyed, strangely slanting, half-buried
Like the fuselage of a downed plane
Draped in periwigs of sodden shrubbery
Head sore after a big blow out.
Beautiful, true,
But deadly too.