Year ending

years ending

Cold has spelled the garden while we were sleeping
and has turned the soil to embers, witched the leaves
to rust.   Overnight clouds of white blossom

like ruffs have come to the arms of trees.   The lawn
is ashen, pinned-out, scared to stiffness
and a hoarfrost tells the spiders’ secrets, lacing stalk

to stalk like rigging thickly roped, catching
the rays of early sun.   The willow weeps
with frozen diamond tears;  so the garden

has not been banished but is coming back obliquely,
tranced at rakish angles — still alive but altered,
and a charged light, snowlight, picks out other themes

— the wafer-pennied honesty along scant lines,
dark, brittle seedcrowns with their architecture
underplayed before, and orange blobs of physalis

that smoulder grounded.   Clutches of berries hang on tightly
to the firethorn.   Dogwood reddens.   The cotoneaster stretches out
its fishbone limbs.   An intimate is stranger — grown contrary.

Still, there is wit in icicles zigzagging gutters like a dragon’s grin
and candyfloss caught on the beech, pompoms of mistletoe,
and snow like icing freshly piped along bare branches.

© Caroline Cook

A poem about an urban garden in winter; first published by Candlestick Press, with an introduction by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy


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