So early this year she
announces to nobody but a blackbird
who rattles his response. Candlemas bells and not
even Christmas. Crouching and wind-curved, she tilts a milky bud
towards her, half-blind, tight-lipped, silent in the leaf-strewn mud.
No longer seeking hope or the promise of spring, she considers
picking one, taking it in – to disprove her mother’s foreboding
of flowers for the dead. Besides, she doesn’t fear anymore, no,
sees nothing to dread from endless slumbers, snug in a clay bed.
February fair-maids, dingle-dangles, dewdrops, death’s flower.
Granny’s schneeglöckchen growing greenest of green, ringing in
spring, but this soon – with autumn leaves unscorched by frost,
unsucked by worms? Winter’s not winter anymore
she mutters, then squints at the sky, waiting
for the blackbird to offer
(This poem was shortlisted for the Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival Poetry Prize 2018, judged by Alison Brackenbury – who said she loved my blackbird!)