Day 16: a double act

Two poems today, one from the lovely Kim Russell, and the other from the equally lovely Mary Earnshaw. They’re both quite short, and I think they work together well – both poems of winter weather.

Kim first:

Gentle Winter Reminder

Snow has been falling for half an hour
and already the garden is covered.
Slumped by the log store,
only the tip of an old sack is visible
as I approach, feet firmly in my wellies,
one sock creeping down to my toes.

The logs are frozen to the touch,
landing in the basket with a thud.
I’m so intent on piling logs for the stove,
I almost miss him: a cock robin hops
along the log-store roof and stops,
head cocked, eye shining, breast aflame,

reminding me of my duty to fill
the bird feeders with the sweetest trill.

and then Mary:

A wet coming they’d have of it

Beyond rain-bleared windows
draggled branches drip beneath
a night loured by cloud.

In the East no stars shine to
lead wise men, or fools, carrying
myrrh, gold and frankincense.

At last the rain stops. We conjure
up the silence of a deep snow quilt,
imagine reindeer really can fly.                

Kim M. Russell started writing when she was a schoolgirl and, since she retired from teaching in 2014, she has become a morning writer of at least a poem a day. She posts mainly poetry on her WordPress blog, writinginnorthnofolk.com. Her poems have been published on-line on Visual Verse, Spillwords, The Ekphrastic Review, Pure Haiku and the Poetry Pea Podcast, as well as in the following printed anthologies: Poetry Rivals and Love’s Labyrinth (Forward Press), Afflatus Magazine, River Writes (Bure Navigation Conservation Trust), Anthology of Aunts and Second Place Rosette (The Emma Press), Peeking Cat Anthologies 2017 and 2018, Fieldwork (New Nature Writing from East Anglia) and the Poetry Pea Journals, as well as a piece of flash fiction in Flash, I love you!, published by Paper Swans Press. Kim has self-published Between Heartbeats, an anthology of short stories and flash fiction, and a novel for children, Joe and Nelly. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two cats.

Mary Earnshaw is a northerner with mixed loyalties, born Lancastrian but raised from the age of seven in Yorkshire. She is co-author, with Alan Parry, David Walshe and Paul Robert Mullen, of a chapbook of poems published by Dreich about Southport, under the title Belisama, Ptolemy’s name for that area south of the River Ribble, between sea and moss, where Mary lives. Her poetry, short stories and creative non-fiction have been published in various anthologies and journals and in 2021 she was shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and the Julian Lennon Poetry Prize.

In 2012 Mary published a crime fiction novel (A Wake of Vultures) set in Zambia where, since 1993, she has spent much time with her husband, Larry Barham, Professor of African Archaeology at the University of Liverpool, whom she met (far too long ago to admit) on a dig in Swaziland (now Eswatini). As a result, her non-verbal skills include cooking concoctions in witchy iron cauldrons, in the dark, over an open fire, for groups of dirty, hungry people.

Day 10: Cruel Mistress

Winter is a cruel mistress,
alluring in ice diamonds and snowy dress,
she curls her lip at shivering and distress.

And yet winter never lies,
her eyes are the colour of open skies,
her heartbeat steady beneath the earth on which she lies.

She sometimes shares secrets
and sometimes splashes field and forest
with bright berries or a robin’s breast.

And when winter glowers,
punishes us with gales and hail showers,
we hunker by the fire for hours

waiting for her forgiving smile
twinkling in icicles, cold and beautiful.

Thank you to Kim Russell for this glittering, icy poem.

Kim M. Russell started writing when she was a schoolgirl and, since she retired from teaching in 2014, she has become a morning writer of at least a poem a day. She posts mainly poetry on her WordPress blog, writinginnorthnofolk.com. Her poems have been published on-line on Visual Verse, Spillwords, The Ekphrastic Review, Pure Haiku and the Poetry Pea Podcast, as well as in the following printed anthologies: Poetry Rivals and Love’s Labyrinth (Forward Press), Afflatus Magazine, River Writes (Bure Navigation Conservation Trust), Anthology of Aunts and Second Place Rosette (The Emma Press), Peeking Cat Anthologies 2017 and 2018, Fieldwork (New Nature Writing from East Anglia) and the Poetry Pea Journals, as well as a piece of flash fiction in Flash, I love you!, published by Paper Swans Press. Kim has self-published Between Heartbeats, an anthology of short stories and flash fiction, and a novel for children, Joe and Nelly. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two cats.

Day 9: winter woodland

now is the time to explore you
in misty light so low
you become one inky shadow

birch, ash, beech and oak let go
of leafy glamour long ago
abandoning piles of copper and gold

now your copses are barefaced and bold
your glimmering gnarly branches hold
mulchy aromas of moss and fungus

I long to see you bathing languorous
in myrrhy moon and silver scent of stars

come and explore me
in this misty light so low
be embraced by my inky shadow

my trees have all let go
their leafy glamour long ago
abandoned it in piles of copper and gold

my copses are barefaced and bold
my glimmering gnarly branches hold
clouds of moss and fungus

come, see me bathe languorous
in myrrh of moon and silver-scented stars



A little wintry magic from Kim Russell. Kim M. Russell has been writing poetry and short stories since she was a schoolgirl but only began submitting to competitions and anthologies when she retired from teaching in 2014. Her poems have been published on-line by Visual Verse and The Ekphrastic Review, among others, and in print by: Afflatus Magazine, River Writes (Bure Navigation Conservation Trust), Anthology of Aunts and Second Place Rosette (Emma Press), Chiaroscuro – Darkness and Light (dVerse Anthology 2017), Peeking Cat Anthologies 2017 and 2018, and Field Work (UEA Publishing Project with Kunsthalle Cromer). She lives in the UK, in East Anglia between the North Sea coast and the Norfolk Broads, with her husband and two cats.

Kim has written two books, a flash fiction collection: Between Heartbeats and a children’s book: Joe and Nelly. They’d both make ideal stocking fillers…

Advent 24

The Christmas Hare

 

In a snowy field one Christmas Eve

I spied a windswept hare

leaping and gambolling

in the frosty air.

The tawny coat beguiled me,

framed by the dazzling white

of the wintry blanket

spread out for the night.

As I watched the hare cavorting,

the sun began to sink

and the backdrop to its dance

flushed a bashful shade of pink.

The creature turned and saw me,

its eyes of amber sparked,

and with that the snowy field

vanished in the dark.

 

This poem is by Kim Russell, who Writes in North Norfolk. She is a lovely poet, and I particularly admire her attention to detail, and the beautiful and exact images of nature she evokes.