The winter of 2009/10 will be remembered by many folk across Britain for its arctic temperatures, deep snowfalls and fearfully prolonged period of ice. The hard weather – experienced all over Europe and Russia - forced thousands of people to change their plans, stay at home, look for other ways to do business, and – often –to struggle to survive. Two elderly friends of mine both slipped outside their own back-doors; each breaking a limb. - A terrible shock!
The young and middle-aged live in their limbs with more-or-less easy confidence. Unless life deals them sudden blows of severance, they don’t perceive the awful difference between their urges and their possibility to act. Old stalwart trees which, in the Fall and through the Winter, lose their leaves, become like skeletons but, after a short time only, surge forth potently again as in the last year’s summer. We people are not fastened to the ever-living earth. Our old folk have seen decades pass, have walked through countless human passages, on the same legs they were given to begin with. With the same hands, now worn, how have they spoiled, salvaged or recharged and enhanced the world – often invisibly to others? Our feeling of respect for life increases with time.
On January 7th2010, a satellite image of Britain revealed two uniformly white land-masses, covered (in the case of Ireland) or surrounded (in the rest of Britain’s case) with cloud that looked like sheep’s wool, roughly teased with frosty fingers. Here in Pembrokeshire, on high ground above Cresselly Quay, a vista through an opening in the hedge offers a frozen silence:
in the bottom field
a single frosted oak tree –
the last leaf, falling
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.