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January's Cold

Goldfinches on teasels,
Alder catkins a face-powder pink
as light returns at four minutes a day.

Wind torn branches,
are spears and antlers
stuck under leafless trees.

Fresh molehills, their runnels of snow
turning to ice caps in the sun,
frothy bubbles as collars in the shade.

Older molehills rounded by rain,
observatories for periscopes
from their nights’ work below.

Sheep’s circle round the ring-feeder.
Or legs folded beneath, then to leave
a shape, as if a hot water spillage.

Clouds smoking with snow.
Horizon fading into a fineness.
Cold descending, deepening as it darkens.

January’s Weights

Generous light in a cup of sun
for the alder, forced by flood
to slope into a semaphore
with flags of dusky catkins.

A message of sacrifice
after years binding the riverbank.
Once prized for clogs, toe-toasting fires
now holding debris, fouling the fishes’ leap.

Fred’s been waiting for some sun.
He has sunken cratches* to pull,
pens to put up, ring-feeder to fill.

Dog walkers are risking the day too,
entangling leads in conversations
outstretched plastic bag ready.

Male magpie holds a long, bent twig
flutters to the top of an ivy column,
female flashes white from higher up.

Just one fine day and the riverside gleams,
another sheen beams from fresh mole hills.
Not enough sun for gateway safety,
Bert slips sideways, boot stuck, bale twists
string loosens, chucks the bale, ruffles wads*
ewe’s tongues, snatch and pull.

January’s a trial by gate ways,
by weights and wetness.
The hardest weather, hands slip,
hands howl.

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Copyright © Colin Fletcher (words) and Jay Mitchell (pictures). The Clunbury Hill Cycle
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