Julie Sampson

 

 

Death-Winter
February 1963

It is the year the poet died
and we are soon to leave the town.
Against the stage-set of raucous rooks
whose interminable chatter gives them
information before the rest of us,
heart-to-hearts, cacophonous, the gossips are out.

We soon to move to another life
prepare to let go,
days of skipping school following the bliss
of winter white-out
we regularly tramp our fields on the edge of the ridge
to check our birthing ewes.
Each morning we try to reach them first.

Coal and great-tits zip in
and out garden’s frozen crevices
and over in Whitemoor-Meadow
fox prints skate field’s-rim, lead to a gap in the fence.
Each day new-born lambs cold with snow
are dying, hunted by scavengers –
hooded crows, common-gulls.
We come upon them jettisoned in the hedge,
haunted, taking in the hollows of their pecked-out eyes.

At dusk, preparing to roost
The super-flock in Dagger’s Close fall silent,
whilst the latest bereft lone ewe’s lament
echoes across our redland ridge
from linhay over lychgate,
rising in air above the quieted rookery,
speaking inconsolable love.

Later, late evening,
Daddy’s calm presence consoling me,
we follow the nightly routine,
walking home a full-moon lights our path.
Another cold-blast along our frost-bitten track –
animal-spoors are runes arrowing our future way.
We wonder if tomorrow will start the thaw.

 

 

 

 

Julie Sampson‘s poetry is widely published. She edited Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems (Shearsman, 2009). Her collection, Tessitura was published by Shearsman (2014) and a pamphlet, It Was When It Was When It Was (Dempsey and Windle, 2018). www.juliesampson.com Twitter @julieEsampson

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