Jan 2010

January Evening

Chill floods the vacuum
the sinking sun leaves behind.
Jackdaws share a joke.




‘Damhsa le glaisín,
tumann draigheann dhá chosa —
‘scinneadh thar’n sruth.


Delighting in dance,
a bramble dips its two feet.
Skims the water’s flow.]



After weeks of heavy frost, the roads impassable in many areas, streams and ponds frozen solid, snow: soft, silent,  beautiful. All-too soon, storms and heavy rain blew in off the Atlantic, adding to the snow-melt, turning the silent, white streams into raging brown torrents. For the fourth time in eight weeks, Skibbereen is battening its hatches against floods: the violent winds combining with a Spring tide and the overflowing water-table. But the Ilen, the main river appears calm, in stasis…

Slow, roiling currents.
Pink-brown of drinking chocolate.
Spilling silently.



It is completely still. Not a rustle. No breeze whatsoever. Smoke plumes up and billows lazily out from a fire miles down the coast. Just hangs there. Crows’ calling clearly heard ‘way across the fields. The streams are silent now. Only birds make any sound. The sky is turquoise. The sun is pale, pale, hardly any warmth. Frost hides in nests and hollows and behind hedges, forming ghostly, negative shadows. Ice forms kaleidoscopic patterns in wheel ruts and where last week a spring oozed over a rocky outcrop. The ground makes small crunching noises under my feet, the ice cracking a half-metre from where I tread. A horse in a green, canvas overcoat blows steam, standing exactly where he was yesterday when I passed, creaking and cracking and crunching. Blackbirds scoot out low from the verges along this track, skimming the frozen ground. A snipe stands, too cold to flee, in the centre grass before me. I stop. Wait. Breath wispy in the brittle air.

Ice waits in shadows,
gathers in shady corners.
Frost-fur trims leaves.


The New Year dawned bright and clear, icy still after the convulsions of the previous few days’ storms. New Year’s Day:

Low, white Winter light
gilds each bare stem and seed-head.
Hidden pheasant coughs.