Winter 1947 ( I.P.)
The yard floor was covered in sky
and reached halfway up the house.
From my bedroom window
through mysterious lacy patterns
that had appeared there overnight,
I could see a magical place
all silent and bright.
It felt like I was the only soul
left in the whole world.
When I looked across to where the trains
chuffed and puffed past each morning,
the land lay buried and quiet
to my four year old eyes
looked like fallen fluffy white clouds.
Suddenly as if by some pre-ordained command
all the daddies in our yard appeared with shovels
and began to make pathways in the
cotton wool clouds,
their breaths all smoky
as they chatted and laughed
and guessed that there would
“no express through today mate,
looks like the cut’s frozen over too, Les lad..
No work fer me t’day then I reckon.”
My eyes moved sideways
grew wide at what they saw.
The canal had turned all still and stiff…
The reeds and bull rushes rigid,
twinkling as if an angel had shaken
stardust over them.
No school bus came
to pick the older kids up
and the yards along the terraces
grew noisy with their excited shouts
and delighted giggles.
the strangest things began to appear,
roly poly white stuff men with twigs for arms
carrots for noses, coal black eyes
and smiley pebble mouths.
Podge dressed me up in my siren suit
shoved me into my wellies,
rolled me into my scarf and tied my mittens in place
“C’mon Mu, lets play snowballs…”
“You’ll see, don’t yer get eatin’ the snow neither
the cats ‘ull ‘ave peed in it”
Barely out of the door
I discovered that the fallen sky
was wet and cold
as a great dollop of it hit me in the chops.
My squawk of protest was heard
by all the daddies
and they turned to gawp
at the baby who was making the fuss.
“C’mon little ‘un snows meant t’ be fun
show us what yer made of, throw one back at ‘im”
I was miserable.
After five minutes my nose was cold and snotty,
my mouth sore and my hands
tingled with hot aches.
So began my Winter of misery…
Nineteen forty Seven dragged on and on and on
and spring seemed to belong
to another life, never to be recaptured…