Monday, 7 February 2011

My Last Poem About Snow


I shan't write again about the snow
telling of icicles and drifts.
I won't again write of how my mother
put me out in my pram
in the deep snows of '47,
the only time, she said, I would sleep.
No more will my pen reveal
the secrets of the snowmen
my brothers built by the railway line
and how the heads melted
when the steam-trains came.
I will not tell again of that December in the 60s
when I walked out of Glasgow in a snow-storm;
a promised lift to Annan at 5am broken,
I thumbed my way South.
In those pre-motorway days the route lay
through the slush-strewn streets of towns -
Hamilton, Lockerbie, Carlisle, Penrith, Kendal,
Settle, Skipton, Ilkley, Otley, Wetherby, Pontefract -
the snow reflecting the civic pride of each
as festive lights brightened the grey day.
Not again shall I write about snow
nor again tell of the return from Liverpool -
when going up Rushup Edge in my old Anglia
I skidded, ending up at 45 degrees
with a dry stone wall an inch away.
It was dark before the grit-wagon came.
They were only going as far as Edale
but towed me out and I returned
to overnight at the Kings Arms in Chapel-en-le-Frith.
The next day I dug out the car
and joined the convoy of lorries
shuffling slowly over Peak Forest toward Chesterfield.
I will not write again about snow
nor tell of the winter of '74
when the world drowned in white,
when the weathermen talked
of temperatures rising towards freezing.
I will not tell of the weeks
when travel virtually ceased
and the drifts blocked
even the entrance to the cemetery.
I will not write again about snow.
Snow is not chaste, unsunn'd
as Shakespeare would have us think.
Snow is not forgetful.
Snow is not a white-wool blanket
Snow is not ice-cream topping for a mountain cone
It does not melt like a retreating army
but swells streams and floods drains.
Snow is simply cold crystals of ice
that fall from a cloud-thick sky.
Eskimos have twenty-seven different words
but there is only one snow
and I shall not write of it again.

Until the winters of yesteryear return
- les neiges d'antan de Villon -,
until the icebergs no longer drift South,
until the earth's warming ceases
I shall not write again of snow.


Composed: Hyde, 1st May 1990


1990 Crooked Roads (USA)
1992 STEALING KISSES (Hyde, New Hope International)
1999 Unlikely Stories (Internet)

1 comment:

  1. I won't tell you about the time me and my mate Barrie were ordered by the police to seek shelter from a snowstorm in a lonely pub above Halifax and instructed not leave the place until they gave us the call clear. I won't tell you about that because I can't remember all that much about it.