I love the hunkering towards dark that lengthens night
draws down winter with amber light, etching
wet black bark in convoluted arabesques
against the pale apricot of autumn dusks.
Oh, stave off returning for just another day or week.
Must we begin to ride, so soon, the bright returning year?
Sleep drowns me, sea-changes old lovers, sets new fancies
tumbling in slow motion, anchors me in cryptic dreams.
Let me slumber, deep in fur, another hour
amidst the sweet caress of winter’s den.
I would not quicken yet.
Pelt, feathers, fleece and flannel muffle any draft
sleep draws me down ten fathoms, sea-changes old lovers,
sets new fancies tumbling in slow motion, twines tawny kelp
and feathered weed round languid limbs then sprawls me
flat upon its farthest shore.
But who can stop the sun
hurling his bright shaft on solstice day?
Shot across horizon’s edge it hugs the frozen ground
skims snow fields, slides down ice-glazed trunks
of rowan, beech and pale birch, darts
unerringly toward my buried keep.
What crow or magpie, mouse or squirrel dug sharp claws
against the ground? Pecked and pawed that small depression?
Stuffed acorn in to fill the hole tight, till hunger forced
its reclamation, leaving space for water and the fickle air
to gnaw an entrance there?
Light finds that empty niche, the single hollow chink.
Its beam strikes true – hits my startled eye, twists down
my spine to lodge in that most secret holy room
where life insists on schedules preordained
and I must stir, and wake to play its game.
Christine Irving 2005