Poet Cornered 2

Driving home to Bristol from Surrey in the recent unseasonable snowy weather I was surprised and alarmed to see some half-metre long icicles hanging down from M32 bridges. Imagine one of them falling onto the car just as we passed beneath! Fortunately, they didn't and I imagined them slowly thawing instead, transforming from life-threatening spears into harmless drips.

Thaw. There's a great sounding word and one that feels as though it has come from the Northlands a very long time ago. When I looked up its etymology I wasn't disappointed - Dictionary.com says, 'before 1000; (v) Middle English thawen, Old English thawian; cognate with Dutch dooien, Old Norse theyja; (noun) late Middle English, derivative of the verb.

The day after our drive home the big thaw was already starting and I was reminded of my poem 'Thaw' which is collected in 'Hear Here!', the book I wrote for children and young adults. It's a simple poem which just tries to gather together a number of similes and metaphors around melting snow but which also attempts to give a sense of the magical slowing-down of time that seems to accompany it.

I can't remember why I wrote it as centre-justified, but it seems to work. Maybe it suits because when things melt they do so symmetrically? Not a rhyming poem - though the repetition of the '-ow' sound at the ends of lines 1, 6 and 10 maybe gives it a bit of unity. I wrote the poem many years ago but I can still remember being surprised, and pleased, by the first two words - 'Tree leaves...' - because we often talk of 'tea-leaves' but I couldn't recall having said 'tree leaves' before, it was always simply 'leaves' or the 'leaves of trees'. Just a little thing but it pleased me out of all proportion.

Finally, here's a short poem I have recently written which is, only ostensibly, about snow.