I wrote this poem a number of years ago, after we started spending a couple of weeks over the turn of the year in England. It was one of my first published works.
Lane and common, heath and ploughed ground
Lie frozen underfoot. The lands
Decline to the sea: downland and saltmarsh
Diked and ditched by countless hands
Against the sea and winter floods.
Beyond the marshes, the named sands
Will rise and fall with the tide.
Skiff and windpump, sails of cloth and wood,
Are battened down and still. The gust
Strikes salt and icy; harness and rigging,
Tarred and treated for rot and rust,
Await the end of winter’s gales.
Above the marshes, the wind’s cold blast
Will rise and fall with the sun.
House and cottage, farm and village row
Sit tightly closed and warm. Fire
Kindles in the hearths; desire and habit
Pruned and piled the garden pyre
Against the night and winter’s end.
Beside the marshes, the year’s bonfire
Will rise and fall with the wind.
Stream and river, pond and open broad,
Wait silently for spring. The snow
Bleaches all colour; hedgerow and reedbed,
Trimmed and tight in winter’s throe,
Withstand the wind and killing frost.
Within the marshes, the water’s flow
Will rise and fall with the moon.
© Marian L Thorpe
Image: John Crome, Moonlight on the Yare, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Original in the National Gallery, London.