escarpment

the years I lived slept

autumn beginning of winter

to the rising tone of the trees

above me on my green hill

the wind whipping through

a gentle roar that never grew

to a full howl or decline

until the snows came

bringing their hush

stoppage to the day

the wind the dark night

all now in half light or blind glare

foot paw prints that appeared

disappear

of white ghosts gone to sleep

smell is heat

whats that smell?

I drive off the ferry & it hits

& I wonder for about six seconds

that smell is heat

more precisely heat on tarmac

dry drains thirsty trees & plants

sun smacking down on pavement

& it takes a few seconds more to realise

I am happy

finally some sun & warmth

on this too long a’wintered body

this feels like home

finally

somewhere south of Amsterdam

staring up at the bows

wooden ship all quiet black

around midnight wintertime

& there across the water

lights on butty boats people going home

after the bars closed

feeling the cold alone

though my friends were feet away

indoors getting beers pizza

& it was great to be there

no camera could catch the moment

million miles from home

holding the strangeness

taking in the winter scene

under the stars

& I missed you being here

but knew this

if you were

you would not be standing

on this cold canal bank

inhaling a Dutch dark night

feeling the frost deep

as you will always run away

when there is warmth to be had

long winter nights

with no lights heading to a darker place

I just had to let her go

she was a sweet kid & everything

wanted a man to look after

be looked after by

& we swung ok between the sheets

except the one time my finger strayed

& that would never do she said

& it’s not as though

that was the end of my repertoire

finish of explore

but it was for her

finito de nada no mas no encore

I just had to let her go

in her sweetness & bright

for if this was our summer

how would we cope

hanging together

in the long winter nights?

indoor coward

those winter days

rolled through slow

times I couldn’t afford the gas

stayed under the covers for warm

& wondered if today was the day

to let it all go

end the pain

there were pills there

being an indoor coward

I feared the rope & kicking

pills & booze & wait in hope

there was enough to do the job

& waking up the next day

the next day

understanding finally

the loneliness had found a home

it was time to make peace

her mask slips

slight green buds on bare branches

& the jacaranda in the window

I grow for green finger vanity

in this temperate climate

has wisps tufting

her spell is lifting

while I dress in thick wool

hat, gloves, scarves & poor temper

against her bitter wind finding flesh

no matter how carefully hid

as a watery sun shines through

creating echo of warmth on padded back

soon, soon, she whispers, I will come

see how winters mask is slipping

not yet cries the wind whipping cracks

though I sense her grip is slithering

there will be another month

or more of this

tho’ her mask may be slipping

she is not done

quite

yet

You will not believe

winter in the cold north

those decade centuries ago

every year there would be a warning

‘do not bring hedgehogs to school’

& i wondered

who would bring such a creature

to school

& I learned

saw

it was a two handed clay tunnel

with a tiny chimney at one end

that the older boys would make

on their way digging up the clay

filling it with dry grass & rotten rags

smouldering to keep hands warm

as they could not afford gloves

some of these

the tougher boys

would wear wooden clogs

with leather uppers

which they would kick each other

any of us younger kids passing by

causing welts & great pain

all this has gone now

such poverty is better hidden

& if I were to tell you more

of kids being sewn into clothes

at the start of winter

you will not believe

that this was so

so far have we come

thankfully

from all of that