Alison Aliffe

My ducks slide ungainly across the pond
As over an inch of ice has formed overnight.
They look rather put out, and totally mystified
When there is nothing to drink, and no purchase for swimming.

The garden sleeps, and worms sink deeper into the soil
Curling up in knots, slowing down their heartbeats,
Getting much needed reserves of strength for the Spring.
All things have a season, the Psalmist declares.

Later in the day the temperature rises, the ground becomes sticky,
Shoes soon clog up, icicles melt and the snowman cries
Until his carroty nose falls away and his coal formed buttons
Roll across the grass.

The Frost is always worse in Scandinavia
Clear, cold, fresh and gleaming in the early morning sun
Icicles there are often a metre long !
As I leave my warm house, before the thaw,
My daily run begins to shape up;
Underfoot it is crisp and even through the Copenhagan Park.
No-one is abroad, the air is clear, clean, invigorating
Worthy of a woolly hat, warm gloves and a scarf,
Nothing is thawing yet: the ground is set and solid,
So I can move with ease,
The miles begin to clock up,
as I circle frosty trees covered in icing sugar glitter in the sun.
Ducks cannot swim in this,
But sit patiently down on the ice-covered pond.
They slide about in ungainly mood
Unable to stand, unable to swim.
By lunchtime they will swim again, in cold, cold water,
Edged in translucent crackled ice.

Alison Ayliffe June 2007