Photographer: Charles Francis
Snow in the wood
For Michael Moss
A strange light in the wood today, a blue
haze humming among the bare trunks,
as if the trees are floating underwater –
shadowing the surf. Bole and branch
shiver and shape-shift in the gloom,
phosphorescent in winter darkness,
their mottled bark smooth-fleshed skin,
silver and cream above the underwood,
lichens dappled and freckled, fringed as coral.
Unlight wraps them for long hours, until
late dawn – with its slow snow fall –
startles, charcoals the leeward sides.
The muddy ruts, pleated by cold,
are starched rigid, as snowflakes
shoal through overhung thickets of woodweed.
Snow remakes the wood, casts light in relief,
flecks white holes in the shadowland,
like a flaking mirror.
Helen Jagger grew up in London, but has lived in northeast Cornwall for over 20 years. Her poems, growing out of the environment in which she lives, have been published in the UK, US and Australia. She is currently Poet in Residence at Pencarrow House, Bodmin, and is also working alongside a photographer and painter on The Bodmin Moor Project which will culminate in a catalogued touring exhibition this autumn. She facilitates the Indian King Poets and the Camelford Poetry Stanza.
4 thoughts on “Helen Jagger: Featured Poet”
Wonderfully vivid made more forest-y somehow by lovely internal chimes. Thanks.
What a beautiful, closely observed and well-constructed poem. Helen Jagger has written many about trees – all are worth looking out for, as is the rest of her work.
I’ve read your poem several times, Helen. I am impressed by the detailing, and the light-transforming “mirror” of the snow by which you metaphorically reflect the scene to us as an underwater world. I really like how you do this. Thank you.
Lovely poem, I love the shape-shifting mood, I love ‘Unlight’. Beautiful sustained atmospherics, mystery and clarity, and wonderfully tactile throughout.