January 28th

The wind has brought the sea inland. It batters
the bare branchtops, howls and crashes and scatters
its dazzling spray across the grass. The eye blinks
and smarts, as the sky keeps on darkening and lightening,
the garden shines grows dull, hunches down among its shadows,
then flings them off with a bright, hard laugh.
The whole place looks abandoned, like a deserted beach,
littered with wreckage, castoffs. Leaf-scraps.
Cabbage stalks. A sodden pit. An empty swing.
And the church like a boat thrown up into the tree.
Flotsam of a new year already old with weather.
The wind chimes ring their dubious alarms, warning
of a storm that’s already been and taken all the people with it.
Only roots and bones remain, and the wind’s voice
that goes on shouting its wide-open-mouthed
elemental roar, skimming shattered glass fragments
over the surface of the pool, which darkens again suddenly
in the smoky rain. The small copse by the wall
is like a broken cage, from which something has escaped,
and leapt over the fence and is out there now,
causing havoc in the streets. It’s hard to focus.
Your senses skitter, unsettled. There must be something else.
Here, maybe, beneath this pile of jumbled housebricks,
where the wind can’t get in, and the season is just
a far-off rumour, some little heat is gathered, a web
of slow stirrings, the heart beating inside the stone egg.
You lean forward, feel something shift, the secret key
starting to turn in its lock, but then the wind drags you round
with a sharp smack, slaps grit into your face, sends you running
with a curse and a grin,
over the heaving, flapping ground towards the shelter.