Sunday 30 November 2008

A Walk In Winter

A Walk In Winter.

November lays naked upon its bleak altar,
Beneath a sky of crow black cloud,
The Kinver woods are haunted with death,
Who lurks in corners where shadows cling,
His thin fingers fade each flower,
Snuffing their life as a candle flame,
One by one until only the ghosts remain,
Drab in drifts of crinkled brown,
Nested in fading ferns that shiver in the wind,
That whistles through the oaks and elms,
Sloughing the last of their summer leaves,
Which still cling as limpets upon a twig,
Awaiting a storm to wash them away.

Bleak is this echo of summers sigh,
Solemn in its surrender to winters crimes,
Magpies gather in brutal packs
And fall as wolves upon the last acorns,
Like harlequins quarrelling over spoils,
Comical in their conflicts, I sudden see,
The fear in their eyes as they are chased away,
For hunger haunts this gaunt day,
Hollowing the hearts of strangers,
And winnowing the herd and flocks,
As natures glory ebbs into a savage stillness,
A deadly hush descends upon the dusk,
The promise of a coming killing frost,
Settling soft beneath a hunters moon,
That will take its prey with a grim embrace.

The sun squints through a half shut eye,
Weeping warmth through a cataract of mist,
A pallid pearl it slips from East to West,
Swift as the white wings of death,
As a pale moth it flutters forth,
Anointing the fallen with its wan light,
Soft as silk upon cold bleached skin,
Beside the crunching stone and slurping mud,
That slips the towpath where we step,
Canal boats are berthed in huddled shoals,
Hibernating against winters thrall,
Fearing the cruel blast of snow and ice,
They hug the banks and sleep away the year,
Plump as black berries upon a briar,
Awaiting Spring to slip the leash of sanctuary.

Wood smoke whispers from a chimney pot,
Protruding from the flat black roof of a barge,
Busy puffing pale phantoms upon the wind,
Thick with the smell of sizzling bacon rashers,
Whose gossamer ghost grumbles our guts,
And waters my mouth with a memory,
That time and tongue can never forget,
Three greylag geese paddle past, arrogant thugs,
Their beaks slip beneath the black waters
To devour the hunks of bread we throw,
Mocking the mallards that scatter from their ire,
Then drifting on in a haughty hurry,
Stars shine as night falls over the clent hills,
As a blanket pulled over after the sky turns red,
All lights in the windows flicker and fade,
As sunbeams in the memory of distant June,
Whilst above us the leonids feather the face of the moon,
Ablaze for a moment, then slipping to their doom.

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