Winter’s Sidelong Light

by Conor Whelan

Winter, and the world is distilled,
crisped, quietened, not just when it snows.
On a day as bright and frosty as this
that nameless colour, not quite amber
or purple of a willow shoot
or yellow of melted butter
but something in between
is draped across the branches
so walking through meditative hills and woods
is an act of alchemy, turning the frozen earth
into an extra-dimensional dragon
that breathes through rivers and fields as mists.
Look closely, the calligraphic twig-tips
reveal their ideograms, creak their messages
for both living and dead, when the longest night
lets slip its dogs to devour the dying year.
New Year will rise out of the mist.