I’m on a brief trip to a frosty but sunshiney UK and have been playing with words.

For grandma, and for London, with love

How little she appreciated the cold, all her life, until she left it behind. As a child it was the beast that woke her in the night, coating the inside of her bedroom windows with its mist, seizing her nose between its finger and thumb until it went numb. It was the wolf waiting when she got out of the bath, its hungry breath panting against wet skin and making the pimples rise as she rushed for the towel and the calor gas heater.

It coated the ground with snow trapping her in the large, silent home, sat by the fire, wondering what else there was in the world that she could never reach.

But today the cold was the most enchanting thing she’d ever encountered. It had called her home and embraced her, wrapping tender tendrils around her thinly stockinged thighs and awakening her skin to the sting of the air. It had shaken away the humidity and the grime of the tropical heat, rinsed her clean and pinned open her eyelids, showing her a new world, a promising sky, the naked curves of a tree branch waiting to shed its last leaves onto the solid ground. Rather than an icy grip on her ankle, pulling her in as she tried to step out, it was the white feathered swan that offered up its back as a stepping stone into sunlight and shadows. Into the realm of the people of the city, those worn, sallow faces that felt like they were hers too.

In the park it was frosty and every motionless thing was now part of the cold, enveloped in its glinting diamond dust. Dog paws crunched on grass, geese crunched against the ice of the frozen lake. Above her head she heard the hollow knocking of a woodpecker. She searched for it against the tree trunk, the tree plucked of its leaves by the deft fingers of the cold. And so she could see the bird, a dark living thing against icy bark, its red striped head quivering and turning. She stood and watched as if there was nothing else and imagined roots growing from her feet to coil with the damp cold roots of the tree in the sleeping earth. The bird pecked again, a rhythmic tappity tap reverberating into the freshest of blue skies.

She thought:

Never give up on the world.



4 thoughts on “Fall for winter

  1. Perfect wordplay and you make a true point. London’s winter is so underrated and the parks turn silent but stunning. I remember an ice storm 12 or so years ago. Hampstead Heath looked like it had a coat of glass.

    Birds seem to be your ciphers! What was it after your nan passed, a kingfisher?

    Liked by 1 person

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