Artwork: Jenny Meilihove
The winter I understand
The long trudge across slaked fields,
soil weights on our feet, wind at our hats
and hoods, drenching us with sidelong rain
and already night has leached into the cloud
so by the time we turn into the lane,
the white house is the last of the light.
You help the boys shake off their boots, hang up
wet coats, I put the kettle on, stoke the damped stove
then we pull up chairs
and as the apple-wood smokes and spits,
the first wicks of flame take hold,
we wait like held breath
for it to burn through the week behind us,
the path it clears a salve.
Jo Hemmant is a poet and director of Pindrop Press. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, won prizes in various competitions and the opening poem from her first collection The Light Knows Tricks (Doire Press, 2013) was highly commended by this year’s Forward judges. She lives in the Kent countryside with her husband and two sons.
Artwork: Sandy Dooley
Valleys full of mist,
hard at work
five minutes past dawn
Fields dip and tilt
low bright sun
pluck strings of light
on a day
Carry the misty forest
in your eye
all the way to the city
across wide grey rivers
and iron bridges
a misty multitude
of tall evergreens
so that the forest comes to the city
but the city
doesn’t suspect a thing
Penelope Shuttle has lived in Cornwall since 1970. She is the widow of the poet Peter Redgrove (1932-2003). Shuttle’s 2006 collection, Redgrove’s Wife (Bloodaxe Books), was short-listed for the Forward Prize for Best Single Collection, and for the T S Eliot Award. Her latest book, Unsent: New & Selected Poems 1980-2012 (Bloodaxe Books, 2012), is drawn from ten collections published over three decades plus a new collection, Unsent.
Artwork: Lena Kurovska
Locked in with Dylan Thomas
I lift the open book from your lap. You point at pictures –
boys pelting cats with snowballs, the smoke filling
Mrs Prothero’s kitchen. I read, you nod at familiar
phrases: the carol-singing sea, the harp-shaped hills.
We flick the pages to Uncles snoozing after lunch,
Auntie Hannah lacing tea with rum.
But you’re keen to turn back to Mrs Prothero’s fire,
as if you’d like to capture that heat, pack it inside your head,
defrost the words from the fish-freezing waves in your brain
until ice melts and the first few letters emerge, shuffle
into groups, build sentences to circulate the room.
As more flood out, swell at our feet, we’re ankle deep
in nouns and adjectives, dictionaries spilling their contents
for us to catch, cram in our mouths, roll on our tongues,
sound out loud, like Dylan’s bombilating gong –
revelling, like children in Christmas snow.
Margaret Beston has run poetry workshops and is the founder of Roundel, a Poetry Society Stanza, based in Tonbridge, Kent, where she lives. Her collection, Long Reach River was published earlier this year: “Delicate and echoing in its imagery, and above all humane, Margaret Beston’s poetry is as fluid and graceful as it is searching” Jane Draycott.