Thursday, December 14, 2006


W.N. Herbert

The frost is touching everything before the sun:
each blade has a pencil nudity that makes
the yolk-like orange seem already old,
each flatness reached, brick-like,
as though all cold was urban.
Sheep crunch its windscreen splinters,
horses’ heads are glued to it down the blue
flanks of shade. Each leaf is a sucrose flake.
Its intimacy is more exhausting than light.

Morning’s sepia, like medieval photographs,
has to fight its way through every scattered grain.
And hollows will persist, like patches left
by the Dark Age bulks of giant sleeping saints,
since Christianity was like a glacier.

Each shadow stuck to it like a tongue
is long and brittle. Everything is biscuit,
feather, spit, viscous, barbed, as though
the land was bait for light, hooking it
and holding it close, gutting the photons
for their kernels of warmth.

Reproduced from The Poem and the Journey: And Sixty Poems to Read Along the Way, Ruth Padel (ed.) (Chatto & Windus, 2007). Originally published in The Laurelude (Bloodaxe, 1998)


Post a Comment

<< Home