Winter Schooling

sunlit snow peaks

Grass showed briefly at the start of the week,

allowing the cattle to expatiate-

(how satisfying to use a word in its rural purity-

such as ‘aftermath’:

greenery returning after harvest.

Rivers and hunting trails

traced under city streets

like veins under skin

for those of us that keep

our hands fit

for milking and digging

and knives

in our pockets.)

but we are now constrained again,

returning for shelter

as the snow falls once more,

adding six inches to post tops

slowly toppling.

The cattle cluster

round fodder bales,

wild birds appear daily

to be fed

with chickens.

The white cape is thrown

like a threat,

tensing life tight.

Two heifers we school

to the rope

walk quietly

when led from the pen

to rehearse circles


in the largeness

of the whitened yard.

alice awaits


Silent under trees

snowy gateway

I stand looking at larch

planted in a semicircle

on the lip of a small quarry

grave spectators.

The grove is white and quiet,

skinny birches twist

along the brae

like hieroglyphs

on a white sheet.

Retreating to pasture

I am met by a light wind

blowing in my face

turned southwards.

The water in the burn

is running with snowmelt