There is nothing dead about this winter,
here on the hard, sore, exposed backbone of
the hills above the Aggia; nothing drab
about this show of oak and broom and juniper
that struggles down towards Colcello’s winter.
See for yourself, there is colour everywhere:
here on the indifferent rock, leprosied
with the unlikely bloom of lichen, or there
in the ageless fingers of the broom that like
some surly sea-plant stirs its deep unchanging green.
But most of all it is the oaks – the stubborn,
stunted oaks – whose blackened stretch-marked
bark is tortured out of every barren fissure in these
rocks to raise up cargoes of unburnished gold
and find the faintest blues of hope in all these empty skies.
And there you have it, winter’s glory in these hills,
the old unchanging guard of watchful broom
and sentried glowing oak whose leaves in lingering
millions scratch the cold cobalt of a winter’s sky
and lend to all this land its fragile bravery.
And now a wind arrives, surprised, to stir
the brittle multitudes that rattle their defiance
of the season. As suddenly it dies away,
dispirited, to leave unnatural silence in its place:
a silence close by, personal:
a winter silence,
reaching down to touch me with an imprint
of old clouds, heavy with the soft promise of snow.