Poem introduction

In one of the snowiest winters I ever remember my younger sister and I went out to play by the frozen lake.

Legend

Legend

The rooms were mirrors
For that luminous face,
the morning windows ferned
with cold. Outside
a level world of snow.

Voiceless birds in the trees
like notes in the books
in the piano stool.
She let us suck top-of-the milk
burst from the bottles like corks.

Then wrapped shapeless
we stumped to the park
between the parapets of snow
in the wake of the shovellers,
cardboard rammed in the tines of garden forks.

The lake was an empty rink
and I stepped out,
pushing my sister first
onto its creaking floor.
When I brought her home,

shivering, wailing, soaked,
they thought me a hero.
But I still wake at night,
to hear the Snow Queen's knuckles crack,
black water running fingers through the ice.


from Five Fields (Carcanet, 1998), copyright © Gillian Clarke, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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