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
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 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.