Happy New Year!
On my last visit to Bradgate Park, in December, the place was covered with sheet ice and the car parks were closed. This was a shame, because I’d taken one of my creative writing students from Loughborough University for her first visit. But one of the attractions of Bradgate is how the weather and seasons can change your experience of the Park – sometimes without warning! And poets are made of tough stuff, so we took off on foot, and Hannah got a taste of the landscape, the buildings, and the wildlife. And the freezing temperatures. And of course she’ll be back for more visits.
The week before that, I was interviewed on BBC Radio Leicester. I was asked about the Poet in the Park project, and read a poem live on air. I’m not sure that this view of the Winter dark is what Friday evening listeners needed on their way home from work, but here’s my poem, which recognises the darkness of these months, but also sees some light in it all.
Towards the Winter Equinox
Everything gets colder. Here’s frost and wind
cutting across the rutting stand:
our lights shout at the dark earth, and the animals moving across it, from Holly Plantation to Thorn Spinney.
The Winter whites and reds: holding us together.
Every bulb and candle flame
tries to warm the landscape, into the bones,
and bring you home.
The days are squeezed. As November dims, the rut subsides.
Here are trees: is it Elder Plantation?
Or the cut pines that expand, with a glamour of decoration
across the hours of limited vision, fires of wood that
spit movement and understanding. We become slower, our resin
pausing for a season.
We build our caves,
leave home less,
these days when the season circles us
more tightly. Wondering
at the noises; we cross between Tyburn and the Reservoir
where groups of bucks form again,
where the mud clings, and the rooks are pitiless.
But there are lights with us; oil, wax or battery.
We remain with our baubles, and are reminded to
mark those bright points which keep us
from overstepping the gap between safety and the deep cold.
Keep the light inside, bubbled over into Christmas and beyond.
Because it has promised to bring us home.