This is the hardest month. Five days ago
clouds, as big as ships, in a blue sky blew fast
southwards. Next day there was an icy fog
that had silvered the lichen on the copse.
The sun had caught it. As the light rose the fog
dispersed and, through the damaged branches,
a church tower appeared – high, square, gothic.
Three days ago I crossed the motorway.
(I had entered the wrecked services first
to collect bottled water and oat bars).
A jack-knifed artic was still smouldering.
I looked away from the cars, the still figures.
The following day, I took to the canal.
The towpath was clear but the drying bed
was beginning to smell of diesel.
Yesterday, I walked the old toll road
towards the mountains. At first, its emptiness
pleased me. But I heard shouting somewhere close
then an engine catch and die. Last night I dreamt
of sheep high on the sides of the wide valley.
As I scale the last quarter of a mile
to safety, I cross to the narrow stream
falling near me. I dip my fingers.
The water is pristine. I mount the ridge
as snow begins to fall – but there is the lake
and sheep still grazing at its verdant margins.
I hear crows and see their blackness vague now
in the white against the sheer crags – then a blurred
orange. I focus the binoculars.
A climber, neck broken, long hair loose is
swinging in her harness…