December 21. Shortest day. All walled in.
I watch the windows and the drab leaking sky.
Waiting for the last light of the waning year.
Somnolent, deep, all-day dark.
Racing clouds and bedroom weather.
A dark and hope-less time.
Finally the dog and I brave the cold
And hopscotch the spaces
Between ochre farm track puddles.
Nut-brown and spattered, she half-heartedly retrieves
Fallen beech branches I half-heartedly fling.
Noses leaf-mould, chews blackened conkers,
Stands solitary, sensing scents,
Then rushes through the shivering blonde stubble.
Following fox. Chasing hope.
We make one last loop as the half-light fades.
Disappointed we turn, but then the last touches of winter-rose
Leak out of skirting clouds to brush the drab sheepfold walls
And warm the way back to the car. And then the line
Of the horizon bleeds like a glorious,
Over-painted eighteenth-century canvas,
The old light-year is over, and a new one begun.
And now there is a spring in our step,
All the way home