Swan Song

When the river froze we would go skating until the thaws came and the river swelled up the banks towards our mother’s garden. You told me that the ice sang when it broke. You told me there was swan song in warmer weather because no matter the beauty of daffodils, of snow drops, of crocus, something was always lost in Winter’s melt. When you learnt how paint moves across canvas and how light falls though lenses I watched you chase though snow and mud to capture every note that crept from the country-side around our home. It was in your work I heard the music.

 

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Writing for Christmas

In the two years previous to this Christmas I found myself writing poetry for Newport Girls’ High School Christmas Carol Service.

The reason was that my English teacher knew that I could write, and she wanted poems for the service. So I was cornered in the corridor and asked very nicely if I could write something. These are situations where I find my mouth saying the word yes before my brain can really think out the implications of taking on the task at hand.

Anyhow. The second year I was asked again, and my last acceptance made sure that there was no way out. I had written the previous year, and written something rather good, so why not repeat the feat?

I will tell you why not; Christmas poetry is a pain in the derriere.

I have a personal phobia of be over clichéd, unless I’m being ironic, but that is something completely different. My original point is that Christmas poetry is difficult to write without being repetitive, or clichéd, or saying something that is so cringe worthily cheesy that it would make me wince to write it.

So for the second year I wrote ‘Home for Christmas’. This year I’m writing a short story though it is not quite complete yet. When it is finished I’m debating self-publishing, and putting copies up for sale on the blog, only a few mind you.

Anyway, I can think on that when the story is complete. For now, here is last year’s poem.

 

Home For Christmas

December’s sleet and sludge to stain rare snow grey

And blank the windscreen dark as tight stretched nights.

These howling winds batter at my moving tin box,

Creeping slowly home down ice clad roads –

 

Here lies Cold’s treacherous claws,

Here we shall mourn safe passage.

 

Yet orange squares still yawn cheerful.

Fixed closed,

Shut to the winter’s eve outside.

 

Behind them is laid the table

Silver glints, laughter waits,

All beneath warmest light. 

 

Cold tries to sneak in with me,

To curl tendrils through the threshold,

But I snap the door shut too quick

And it is left to whine around the house.

 

I shed the layers, coat and scarf,

Set them by upon a hallway peg

And blow on gloveless fingertips,

To melt the frozen blue from them.

 

I shall sink into the mundane chatter

That only comes with Christmas

And the familiar kitchen din and clatter

Of best plates placed upon best table cloth,

Servings of food too great to finish

And bangs of crackers with rattling toys.

 

Among this old hands encase my own.

They pull me into loving arms

That age but can never truly change.

Always is given the same embrace

No matter the time passed since the last.

 

Here are paths which divide, twist and bend,

To be pulled together by half forgotten strings,

Awoken in pine sap scented rooms

Where crumpled papers crinkles in flames

And the fire dances in its flickering heat.

 

Later, chatter fades to sleepy murmurs

Of Grandfathers dozing upon armchairs,

Conversations switch from past to future

Or same time next year?

Perhaps a change of scene?

Will Aunty Flo still bring the mulled wine?

And as for the rest,

Well we shall wait and see

What the year will have to hold

Before plans are set in concrete.

Shattered Symphony

Before the ice crept into your veins and settled,
Before the cracks in your heart were petrified,
Was there something other than ancient dust?
Hiding in the hollow echo of disused synapses,
Where nerves once sparked into singing chords
Rattled down time taut strings of frozen organs,
Buzzed through the vena cava and battered valves,
To swell lungs full with gasping, desperate breaths
While drum beats thundered, and the tempo jumped,
Crescendos of flustered words and twisted tongue,
Chasing the sun drenched notes from honeyed lips
To pin them down, caught upon a pulsing manuscript.

If there was once something more than what is now,
Then how did the rhythm crumble from its arches?
And why did the melody shatter sharps to flats
Tumbling from the stave etched in your arteries,
To clatter through the first of frozen teardrops,
That came when the ice first crept and settled in.