The mountain road coiled, dipped in places,
a saggy asphalt snake. Bends cuddled
frosty drifts, crusting with darkness
and a swift drop in temperature.
We watched somersaulting
snowflakes from portholes
of erased condensation,
our gloves and coat cuffs damp.
We stepped out, dwarfed
by giant firs where the moon
seemed to hang and blush,
waiting for cloud cover
to take the spotlight
off us and our tree taking.
Dad let us choose one for the front room
where it dominated the corner
in a russet bucket whose brassy handle
hung like a necklace, a proud heirloom.
The fire spat sap, banked up
with logs, coal and peat.
Intense heat pinched pine needles loose,
falling daily they fragranced the room,
shocked our sockless feet as we left
a mince pie and whiskey in the wee glass
with the horse warming on the mantel,
knowing he’d already had enough.
Lorraine Carey’s poems appear in Orbis, Prole, Poetry Ireland Review, Atrium, The Ofi Press, Constellate and Smithereens among many others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has work forthcoming in The High Window. Her debut collection is From Doll House Windows.
Christmas Eve, 1981
I’m told not to wander too far from the rented farmhouse,
all I can see is white blanketed moorland and crisp blue skies.
I walk down the dirt track, hands deep in my red coat pockets.
I walk too far, too long. A red kite swoops down,
an innocuous brown bird moves quickly into hiding,
it startles me with its throaty rattle, off-kilter clown laughter
ringing out across the snow-covered Pennines.
Rachel Burns is a graduate from Durham University. She is an alumnus of the 2018 Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Programme. Her poetry pamphlet A Girl in a Blue Dress is published by Vane Women Press.Twitter: @RachelLBurnsme
Galloway wraps Agnes in Christmas frost-velvet,
new life inside her murmuring.
Dairymaid lass, she steals like a dormouse
amidst the fireworks of the vast,
quivering for comfort.
If she could fly, she’d beg the heavens
for a familiar, a dusky little owl to land her
in a witch’s nebula, where stars are born.
She might raise this child
in its nursery without reproach.
Maggie Mackay’s pamphlet The Heart of the Run is published by Picaroon Poetry with her full collection A West Coast Psalter due out early 2021. She reviews pamphlets at www.sphinx.co.uk and loves to daydream with a dram.