Time was, they would air lift food supplies
to hill farms trenched in snow for months.
We’ve not seen that here for twenty years.
Christmas is warm and wet, viruses spoiling
through the closed-in valleys like gossip.
February, no doubt, will be the same slide
into March, weeks of white-lid skies, least
path a mud slick, weather a little deeper
in your joins. That year, pipes froze so hard
you had to hold a candle to the joists and hope
for the crack, the break, the fissure in the ice;
a two bar fire on your wall a surgeon’s mask,
dull, red, ugly but utterly wonderful when the
power returned. The Thames froze and milk
arrived on skis to burst tops on doorsteps
like over-proved bread; across Devon sheep
cocooned like embryos in blue tombs,
the lamb replete and perfect in its birth sac.
Now these supplicant frostings at New Year
are sticking plasters on the black wound
of the earth, an inch of ice-cube snowballs
friable as buck shot. There’s blossom
in the lane, birds have begun their relay
of twig and feather, crows tumble catch-me
in the humid air and we’ve given up on winter
when all of a sudden overnight in Heptonstall
a muffler drops a white sheet over the moor.