I woke before the house

One birthday morning

I woke before the house

and crept to the stairs

where our big window was a gleam

of almost-Christmas light,

uncertain white, frosting on pale hills,

not yet breaking day from the night.


Nothing moved on the land.


Ash, willow, birch, great oak

stood still

as if there never had been life,

nor death,

just this waiting in between.

I felt some fear, or aching,

like never before –

somehow nothing would be the same,

nothing stuck to plan,

a clearness was lost that could never

be redeemed.


Closing my eyes, I heard

the dream-filled breath of the others

tiding under doors, through keyholes,

returning, yes! – I thought,

to day’s wake,

to life at hand.


But above all those sleeps

there leaned

a tree I could not name,

from which descended shimmering,

tragic things

that I could not understand.

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