Bitter winter, I exult in you.
You are my gift, my shroud, my winding sheet,
My creative death,
Pausing me in a frozen still-life
So that other life can break in,
Changing still-life to full life.

Lovely, lovely winter,
With all your subtle colour,
Your peerless blues and high violets flushing
the snow,
Your avalanche of lemon light and tender light
Whose sight
Makes me shake and shiver,
Shaking loose the hidden smoulder
Of scarlet tipped berries burning through darkness.
Those bonfires of memory reminding us
Of the steady scintillation of our hearts.
How I love your cold breath
Blowing me always into a new passion.

Blow, winter winds!
Blow your bitter chills until the sky dances,
The sea rages
And all the plump little mermaids
Leap to the surface of the holy water.
Mermaids who laugh at the scunning ships,
At the flag-sailed ships of myth and story,
Bringing us cargoes of dreams and coral and lost sea-horses,
All touched with glory.

Look! Look!
Look at the beauty of winter.
Look at the white peacocks flirting with the frosty hoar.
Look at the dark clouds racing darkly over the water
Towards the great-beaked swan
Who pecks gold from the tight-skeined air.

                               © 2019 GWEN GRANT


chair at window


That long dirty road
Washed by rain,
Shines now in the lamplight.
Darkened houses
Running down each side,
Are stubborn in their silence,
Pitiless in their blankness.

No-one is out tonight,
No footsteps echoing through the quiet air,
Just lonely eyes
Looking through bare and dusty windows,
Wishing someone would walk by.
Perhaps even turn in at the gate.
Step inside for a chat and a cup of coffee.

But that never happens.
The kettle stays cold,
The biscuits put back
In the tin.
And the china cup and saucer
With the little silver spoon,
Carefully replaced in the cupboard.

Tonight the armchair
Pulled up to the fire
Stays empty.

There’s always tomorrow.

                                          ©2019 Gwen Grant


old rail lines

                    MIDDLE ENGLAND

Aconites shower colour onto the grass,
Their gleaming petals lying gold
Against the faded silver of petals past.
Bright as summer, they blossom.
Bright as false promises of a brilliant future.
At the bottom of the fields, the stream
Leaps like a lamb over brown stones
Lying on the river bed.
It’s here that in the dusk,
The bats play Tag in the scented air
And through this clear water,
Fish flirt with the rising moon.

This is middle England.
A land of spell and myth,
Where corn fields roll over roads,
Fly up hills
And plunge reckless to the valley.

Last century,
Within memory of men around here,
Within memory of women’s hands
Beating coal dust out of clothing,
Pitheads were sewn into this land,
Tall pit wheels standing
Like slivers of jet in the land around them.
Lovely ships anchored to a soft horizon,
Floating over tree tops.

Now these ships of the earth’s core
Are gone.
Their blackened docks,
Their ugly quaysides destroyed.
They were majestic,
Like the Queens of the ocean,
Lit from stem to stern with pinpoints
Of light.

Will it all go?
Aconites, river, hill and valley.
We weep for what has already gone.
Let the trees stay,
Let those old forest remnants
Give bone to the earth,
Joining bone to loved bone.

                                         © 2019 Gwen Grant