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.