Here is a poem from my last collection, which I hope captures the strange, stilled atmosphere of this season. Some things come to a halt and other things start anew. I’ve been looking at the last line again, and wondering if it rings true (at least for me this year there is quite a bit happening over the next few months). I’m trying to remember how I felt when I wrote the poem, how I came to that conclusion. I remember that my poem was triggered by an early poem of Wendy Mulford’s called ‘Kingfisher’, which I was reading at the time. Wendy’s poem is also set in January; she imagines ‘a whole year of waiting’. Both our poems are set in the part of Suffolk we share in common, that flat land of large skies. I think Wendy’s poem is partly about writing, about waiting for poems to occur, because it ends with the lines ‘speaking the voices / out of our heads / I only write it down.’ So maybe my ‘nothing’ really is ‘something’ after all – that light tug that suggests something has fired the imagination …
Sometimes he appears
near the little bridge, Titian blue, wings
like the silks of emperors, sharp
against the grey.
Not today. Today nothing moves.
You focus your binoculars
on a patch of pure white.
You have to be quick
to see him. Ready for anything.
But the sky is thick with cold;
we are slow in our layers of black,
words halt on our breath.
The high sound of choirs
as we drive by the church.
The month for funerals.
We write lists of things to do,
resolutions, lose them
in the great pile of accumulations.
A covering of frost on the trees.
A vast hibernation. We raise ourselves
from sleep, we are ready
for nothing to happen.