Winter Again

We knew it was coming. Yes, it’s true, of course, that a foot of snow is nothing in Scandinavia or North America. Not so in southern England! The camellia tries in vain to blaze its pink from under snow, and it’s too cold to sit long at my desk; the snow shovel calls.

winter clamps its jaws
shuts, clenches, shivers between
chattering white teeth

Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

 

Advertisements

Grey Heron

Images (c) RSPB

For the first time this year, I saw a huge heron fly over today. Usually I see them hunched by the river or beside a lake. Their watchful stillness is eerie, almost as if they’re not quite a part of this world.

Old Heron

Hunched, still as a wily snake,
You wait below the willow on the shallow bank.
Although alone, you’re doubled
At the water’s edge by your shadow self,
By that ageless grey bird, who, unstirring,
As stoic as you on stilted legs,
Stands just as hunched.

Tireless, you wait & watch
With prehistoric reptilian eyes
For hapless frogs & fish—whatever swims your way—
Since you’re not choosy
But endlessly patient,
Missing not the smallest ripple
And, like running water, tireless.

How ragged you are, old heron!
You’ve stood on the brink so long
That the weeping willow’s turned
From green to grey, from yellow back to green again
While you’re still biding your time, lurking,
Ruffled, muffled in your shaggy cloak
And—like a leafless willow branch—how ragged.

Words © Lizzie Ballagher

February

Yes, February may be viewed as the start of spring in some cultures. And, yes, I am writing this post as snow blows in over the North Downs on a below-zero wind. Still, the thought of warmer days and brighter light keeps the winter blues at bay, even so long before the changing of the clocks. Hence this little poem.

Lemon Light                                                           

Day comes up full of willow buds

Yellow as yellowhammers

And dusts the path with daffodils,

With flaring saffron crocuses.

 

Between long cirrus clouds, citrus light shakes out

The splash & flash of goldfinch wings.

 

An early brimstone butterfly ascends

Creamy yellow on skeins of invisible updraft:

Away, it lifts away, drifts away

Over banks brimming with primroses.

 

And now on the morning of the springing clocks,

Here in this first week of a northern spring,

 

The flame has turned,

Sun’s fire has burned

From winter’s crimson plum

To spring’s bright lemon light.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher