‘Snow Country’ by Dom Bury

Snow Country
Dawn over a white field. A fresh mantle of foot deep snow
            and two            greying silhouettes
talking       haltingly, moving       haltingly against the tree-line
            against the coming light
that brings for them a final throw       at what      by now
                                                                              is critical.
5am and I’m bolt upright, sweating       with someone else’s pain
                 in my chest.
Outside       it’s snowing again – the lake                   packed with ice
                 makes the sound of metal
under an approaching train –             snapping             tensing as
                                                                              the body does.
We stand on the moors and watch                 as the clouds fold in.
                Lightening opens the sky
like a flung knife               and, for a second                 it’s visible again.
                Your contortionist’s grimace,
that mask of shock that holds         then falls         as the snow does –
                unfurling from the sky
                                                                                like a flag.
It’s spring                 but it could be autumn. We sit in the garden
                under the leafless rowan
in the same place you first told me                 only now the snow
                is smeared with mud.
Standing, I half expect you                 my mother                 to keel right over.
Carrying you back                 I feel it – in the empty cup of my hand
                                                                                your new weight.
Grief surely is the loneliest animal. It hunts in the small hours.
                In the corridor                 between sleep
and being in some form                 alive, in some way awake enough
                to hear you                 up again.
Rustling around the kitchen                 like a pile of dead leaves.
                Drinking in
the calm of first light                 that if translated                 would read
Dusk over a white field. A smattering of new snow, and against
               the tree-line
a blackening silhouette                walking around                 like a child
                holding a hand
                                                                               that isn’t there.
‘Snow Country’ won the 2013 Poetry Competition and was published in Issue 58 of Magma).
Dom Bury is from Devon and now works in London. He has been published in a number
of magazines and anthologies including Ambit, Poetry Wales, The North, Magma, and
Best British Poetry 2014. He won the 2013 Magma Poetry Prize and is currently editing Magma Issue 64 with Jon Stone on the theme ‘Risk’.