As a Dutch national living in the UK I was unable to vote in the elections on Thursday. Never has Friday the 13th felt worse: those results and interminable rain, rain.
A couple of friends have just lost a parent, or friend, another friend is about to have the last Christmas with her father. Hospice care has already been arranged for him. I count my blessings and I count the days until Solstice on my fingers.
The water meadows
for the storks to return
the other side
of her face
in this book
there is snow
on every page
even an old potato
can be turned
into a Christmas stamp
the naming of colours
is not a science.
I vote for bird’s nest grey
At our Manchester Poets Christmas meeting on Friday someone read Stopping by Woodson a Snowy Evening. This poem, along with The Road not Taken, is one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems. Many people who are not poets have come across them.
Here is Questioning Faces, a short winter poem by Frost. It has marvellous precision and economy. It inspired my poem Mid-December. It is based on a real observation: seeing the fox in my rear garden under the light cast by the helicopter. Getting the end-rhyme across the two stanzas was an interesting task.
The winter owl just banked in time to pass
And save herself from breaking window glass.
And her wings straining suddenly aspread
Caught color from the last of evening red
In a display of underdown and quill
To glassed-in children at the windowsill.
Some people might pray for the day
to end, so they can cover glass
panels with ceiling-to-floor lined drapes,
or plain blinds that click into place.
Sitting by the radiator
I count the nights before Solstice,
think of the fox who’s come to stay.
She, padding across stiff white grass,
makes no such distinctions, escapes
gardens, water meadows; her face
now up to the police helicopter
beaming light on the world that is.