All through the day snow has been falling
like stars out of place or angels or prayers; slivers of universe
with millions of possibilities that if singled out and caught by
a warm hand will pale to a tear
leaving only a memory
of a feathered touch or eyelash kiss.
From within we watch the new night sky
filter out its blanket of white
silencing the ground as it mimics
a clean sheets over our bodies.
Slowly the wind strengthens and like a wolf
the once silent fall becomes
an orchestra of science as
snow twists past street lights,
spirals over houses and dances past the last
bus that now takes a unknown diversion.
Snow defying gravity, soaring,
flailing and falling
onto a frozen landscape
that we watch developing
like a photograph;
the paper restless in chemicals,
a world in darkness with only
a muted oxide glow to guide our hands
and the sound of wolves now scratching at the door.
The snow shoulders farms
against the moor, fills lanes
once engraved through land,
amplifies the essence of our existence
and brings the last moving traffic to a dead stop.
We look down upon the village,
down towards the snow globe centre
where a clear web of lights
that once spiralled out from its core
Children make their escape to first floor rooms
taking treasured possessions and shelving
photographs, books and computer games
for safe keeping. They watch from relative safety
the commuters clearing driveways
throwing salt stone and filling kettles
ready for the bite of a morning unknown.
The snow and the wind continue
and together they conspire
to cover everything, leave nothing undone.
In the dawn grey light the children jump
from their bedrooms
and slide into drifts where garden walls
once stood. Without boundaries
the commuters give in and turn over,
their driveways scarred but slowly recovering.
At the reservoir skaters erect temporary
fencing and jostle for space
practising the latest toe picks and steps
in time to the click of the make shift
chair lift that now runs the length
of the banking much to the water board’s
disliking. An old man argues with a group of
German ski enthusiasts, who, unable to build houses,
are offered the chance
to take part in the first Pennine slalom
made of frozen sheep and stone. The snow continues.
And in the village where cars no longer exists
dog walkers turn out en-mass, carrying their plastic purple bags,
but deciding to turn back, much to each dog’s delight,
next to where the last bus was abandoned
with its lights still on and windows steamed and the driver
reported missing in the last hour as per company policy. The new school
head clambers over the football pitch regretting the early morning text
but looking at the plus of trying out her new coloured boots, one piece suite
and combination head scarf that works as both casual and smart.
The snow continues. Warning signs that have flashed
through the night go out.
The wind howls. Roads disappear,
as does the ground floor of that row of terraced houses
nearest to the river now frozen to the shape of claws.
An Australian, visiting relatives for the first time, joins a group
of Finns who have all been prescribed light
and feel short changed. They make out
at a self built sauna hidden out of sight with a discarded barbeque,
garden shed and a selection of furs smuggled under clothing.
The Australian’s relatives, in some desperation,
follow snow angels on tree lined paths and join the group
naked in the drifts. The snow continues.
And last to move is the farmer who makes
a half hearted attempt to clear the lane
but misjudges the weight of the counterbalance
and upends like a duck, slipping from his seat to become
caught by the Saint Christopher around his neck
now half strangled on the tractor’s gear stick.
We give in and watch the snow fall.
We watch the village slowly fade from sight.
Darkness falls again. Villagers make their escape to higher ground,
walking on rooftops, as streets begin to drown.
First to go is the pub, then the bakery and the gallery.
Then the post office, convenience store
and charity shop. Gone is the off-licence,
the take-away and flower market. Also
the doctor’s surgery, news agent,
haberdashery and selection of newly
opened cafe bars and restaurants
catering for individual tastes.
Gone is the police station, swimming baths, library
and school. And on the outskirts, where property
once made a better investment, the Social,
Conservative, Liberal and Band clubs are all going under.
And the snow continues with no sign
of it ever petering out. From the hills
we see the distant city glow, the only
light in the valley, as the people hunker down
in make shift shelters where we listen to the sound
of our breathing amidst the cries of wolves
that leech out in the cover of snow. And we wait for the thaw,
wait in reverence with cold empty hands.
Snow first appeared in my debut pamphlet, Flowers by the Road, published by Templar Poetry in 2017. You can purchase a copy from the Templar Shop