Death at Christmas

She fell face forward

Onto the wet pavement

And she was dead.

And her face was blue

When they rolled her over

As blue as the ocean in winter,

And her daughter screamed

Howled into the glittering street

Full of hopeful shoppers

All of them deaf to her moans,

All of them shrouded in wool

And Christmas fear.

And her aged face was dented

By the grey slab

And there was nothing to be done

And there was nothing to be said

Spring tide

A winter’s storm has flung

A thousand pebbles on the esplanade.

A thousand rounded cherts and flints

Rolled in the grey tide

And smothered by the sea’s grey foam.

I watch them as the setting sun

Gives each a slanting shadow tail

And like a thousand spawning fish

They face the West aligned

And swim upstream for home

Lyme Park

Lyme Park in the snow
Was a sight to behold,
Leafless trees lined row on row
And a fold of whiteness falling away on either side,
Like infinite blotting paper.

I sat duffle-coated on my sled,
Atop the slope
Fingers round the yellow twine
And then I saw her, the girl in red,
The girl directly in my line of flight.

And I don’t think that I had ever seen
Such beauty in a girl before
And suddenly it all made sense,
Life, love and honour
Seemed tied up in her woollen scarf

And for a moment
The five year old became the man,
And I caught a glimpse of life’s great plan
Mapped out across the Virgin snow,
But something made me let it go

And push off from my resting place,
Something fearful deep below
Pursued me as we gathered pace,
My sled and I,
We hit her squarely on the thigh

And there we were
That girl and me,
Tossed flotsam-like on a stormy sea of white,
Whilst adults ran from left and right to rescue her.
The girl in red cried silent tears,

Away was led
And someone near was overheard to say
This was indeed a sorry way to end the day.