At first it was the whiteness

At first it was the whiteness.
A drift across the bleeding
crag face, crevices ridged like
tears, residue of the landscape’s
long hard weeping.

The ice came on the Second Day,
fissured. On the cracked windowpane of
vision a flicker and then a
stasis. Holding,
like aborted fire.

I drew the curtain.

She was gone.

White into
white, silhouette into
stone, subsumed. Only
the silence of the snow, and
the eternal crag face –

On the Third Day we went
with spices, unloaded
remnants onto chopping boards.
Tomb – where is your

The winding sheet lies around me,
a blue tangle, foot-of-the-bed-
sleeping-bag-un-birthed. And the
endless schoolroom carpet.
I touch walls.

Midweek we broke ours
tep, and began our
fast. Frozen
slabs of hunger on the
kitchen sideboard.

I made Dahl, grinding
the pods, finding
in the pop and hiss
a warmth, not unlike a
mother’s milk.

On the Fourth Day
I peeped from the cleft in the rock,
saw something slither
from the ages, and heard the
ringing stones
quarter-tonal, resonant in their

It was time.
Time, ladies.
Time, architect of these
calciferous formations,
towering invisible,
like the mock of one who knows

Packing was easy
although the coastline,
barely visible from
my window, beckoned me
to stay.

When the pipes froze we
rallied round, bearing
buckets, cloths now turned to
remedy, bandaging the breakage,
expletives rolling round the
corridors like escaped peas.

Like buggery we gave it all we had,
making the best of it, spirit
of the Blitz. And sharing
alcohol, like campfire
songs, we warmed the
waning of the week,

while oolites laughed at us,
from the buried earth,
and, deep in the
cold of Oxford soil,
another country,
she lay still. Un-birthed.
My mother.

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