We're delighted to present our Poem Of The Day, presented in association with Poetry Ireland

Today's poem is A Blackthorn Winter by Ann Leahy - read it below.


The funeral done, we walked in bright, expectant April

on lanes that wound to the crumbling burial ground.

Ash trees, hung with last year's wretched seeds in tatters,

waved like beggars eager to converse. All we heard

was a rattle as the wind exhaled through each.  

Too weak to stand, she'd seemed not desolate but amazed:

'imagine me, me who could fork reeks of hay drawn in

by men, me who could do the work of any of them?'.  

As if this day - her last - was the first on which she’d noticed

any change: decades had shrunk to a season. 

Spring was stark. Blackthorn in arthritic tangles

occupied a nether region, leafless, yet pricked

with hard-nosed buds in pink, caught between

death and regeneration, as if the year

was loath to burgeon again within the bark.  

By Month’s Mind, roads were fringed with Queen Ann’s Lace 

in frothy umbels thrust on thin, frail arms 

to buffet every car that passed in futile gestures

of embrace. Petals clung for weeks like wings

ripped from death’s spectral insects. Who could forget?

We’d stood then, sure of death, not sure when, while buds

on midnight’s trees were seared with frost. And mutterings of love

perished, half-formed, as we composed ourselves by the bed.

At last, a gasp, then a pause. But who knows what shrill,

silent screech? What soft, billowing updraft? In the end, no words.

The graveyard's unkempt edge was faintly sibilant

by summer’s close with blades of Yorkshire Fog

that bowed before the wind’s blunt scythe.

Then that dissolute breeze withdrew to leave

them leaning, not quite touching, hushed and askew.