High House Pond in Mid-Winter – Kim Baker

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
1986 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Adjudicators: Edward Lowbury, Vernon Scannell

A wide bowl flanged with
Slabbed mud; soft trodden cobbles
Of glossy ooze dotted
With little sky blue mirrors.
Dim at the margin,
Marbling slow boiled clouds
Of pumped silty drifts.
Hoofs chop the soft crust,
Paddle prints in frilled clods
Upturned on the black and green rim.

White for so long; white glazed
Like a cool gritty porcelain
Snowed over.
Dead shreds of grass
Hang in crisped silks,
Dry and straw coloured
Till weak sunlight fires
Golden lustres.
Deft calligraphies
Lacquer the snow bowl.

Under bright moonlight
Ice tightens and sighs,
Settles a shoulder back under
The fallen blanket of snow;
Dreams the tense weight
Of a white horse stepping.
Sniffing frost. Again stepping.
Cautious, the whiskered head looms.
Nostrils plume his own ghost in mist,
Till, at the centre,
He pauses, still, under moonlight;
Floats frozen hooves over land
He knows never was there.

Two months under.
Blackly the drugged pond slept
Under a thick lid of ice.
We beat at it with metal gate bars
Till a thin trickle seeped
From fractures chipped at the edge;
Cold clear water coaxed
From its frozen coma.
The white horse still waits,
Shouldering wind from the North.

Copyright © Kim Baker 1986

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