Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Winter Poems by Nina Milton


They are matchless,
My trees in winter. 
While I watch telly and eat carbs, 
Put the fire on, the heating up, 
They stand naked to the battle;
Steady for storm, ready for gale. 

Winter trees communicate in semaphore
Black flags against the half-day’s light.
They are gallows for bats,
Rigging for gulls,
Blue cages for robins 
Steeples for stormcocks.

In the cold sun, 
The oaks glow emerald with moss;
The planes strike piebald patterns;
Birch trunks shimmer like a high moon. 
I pull on gloves, hat, scarves,
Brave the cold to watch 
As they wait secure, 
Dreaming sap dreams,
Expectant for spring.


                                                                                   Scrag End,
                                                                                   Hag wending
                                                                                   Her cackling flight
                                                                                   Over the mushroom yews.
                                                                                   The Samhuin night holds her,
                                                                                    Unfolds her soaring cloak
                                                                                    As she rides her birch broom high.


Storm Eye
Borne higher 
Than Circling wind,
A vortex for a throne.
Below, as we run for cover
She shrieks a laugh and spins
Stridng the tides.

Boughs creak
Clouds flapping
Seas flooding, seeing blood.
She shakes the earth 
Till fire spews.
Life’s elemental horrors are hers
As she beats out the storm

Misshapen crone, 
Winter harpy - time for home,
Let late winter snows gentle 
Lambs and snowdrops into life,
I implore, beseech you, hag,
It’s Bridget’s time, so pack your bag.

(the Cailliach is a Scottish Goddess, whose legend states she epitomizes hard winter)


The train flies; 
Rails roar in terror of looming night
Miles shudder on
Into a dimmed future.
Sky is ashen with a splash of paint,
Tree, pole, nudging horse in silhouette against it. 

The colour drains; 
Green frowns into grey, 
Brown slides towards black,
Your eyes get dim
In this darkening world, dotted  
With small square stars of windows.

Willows as fluffed as candyfloss;
Oaks flash past like lollipops, poplars are batons 
Directing the chugging wheels.
Settling cows hunch in the loaming.
Look away – don’t guess the shapeless things out there.

When you look back, day’s death is fulfilled
And all that can be seen is the sound of the train.


Photograph of Stanton Drew
 by the late Carni Tipton
Suppose the dolmen that squats high on the track
Are three petrified shepherds who never sleep – 
Moonbeam white, resting as they watch their sheep
Leaning to rest each on the other’s back?

While down in the valley, three circles lie,
Earth-rooted like old men’s molars, they stare
Past the earth’s harried timekeeping to where 
Stars wheel backwards and the moon’s phases fly

To the beat of these sandstone hearts. One ring
Lies fallow, resting in the weedy grass, 
The grandest circle is spaced wide and fast
The third stays tight, upright; I hear it sing.

It breaths the pulse notes of a well-tuned harp
It holds the secrets of a trusted chart.


My feet stand deep by your heel in the gloom
Of your towering wilds.
Storm wave, Wailing Wall,
They named you Black Hill,
The back end of Brecon’s
Mountain range where, disconsolate, you loom.

Ceridwen loves to feel the dusk enslave,
Wrap wild anguish round
A heart. Black Mountain must
Belong to her,
Stirring an iron-cast pot
Inside a hollow crag, some dark-eyed cave

Murky shadows move me; what you are, Ker –  

Goddess, hag, or just a tale 
From old-folk years? No answer.
Only the wind, steep with dread
Flap of umbrella bat, bleak caw of crow,
As they soar into the desolate air.

From the break of dawn to moon-slivered night,
Herbs lie in curling steam.
Cauldron-sour on the tongue,
Perilous to steal, it will devour,
Turn you mad or
Offer transformation into light.

I turn upon my heel, can’t hold my place.
The barren cliffside sucks
At hope, drags away cheer.
My shoulders shudder 
At the goddess glowering in her crag
And want to weep at your heartbreaking face.

Winter Poems by Nina Milton

No comments:

Post a Comment