Veiled drifts of Winter’s ashen breath
Hang cold upon the woodland spread
Below us now, beneath the valley head.
Dipped to shade, of sallow day’s own death,
A gash of rock and earth now draws us down,
Cleaving through the heather’s tufted gown.
Numbed by moorland heights, our cheeks
Become aglow, where branch and bough
Lend shelter to a path that leads us low.
Denied the very freedom it always seeks,
Our passing feet disturb the captive air,
Suggest that ears must prick in den and lair.
Yet naught we see amidst the woodland litter,
No bead of eye, nor loft of pointed ear,
Only silent witness that we alone walk here.
Eternal, Nature briefly holds us close to her,
Mere mortals we, faint flickered light,
Yet endless in a love that binds us tight.
At last, upon a dimly dusk-lit lane, hand white
In hand we tread beneath an ink-stained sky;
Minds to warmth, but hearts upon a place to lie.
Now beacon bright within the bible black of night,
An inn, with wily guise, suggests we hasten near,
Invites us in, to share its ancient cheer.
Lazily, like sprites upon enchanted tasks,
A first few flakes of snow are left without,
Saved fatal entry to this our warm redoubt.
The landlord murmurs welcome; our need he asks;
Board then set before the hearth ablaze with logs,
Where sprawls his fastly sleeping dogs.
Our supper gone, entwining hands do bring
Fresh rosy face about such gleaming eyes;
Overarched by your brow’s enquiring rise.
Soon, both heart’s desire, a simple thing:
Winter held without, sheets’ warmth within,
And love’s two halves now joined as one again.
Clive S. Johnson
Poet for August