Essay on Snow

We have been here before, but not often.
With the blue snow lying on the shaded roofs
And the city beyond them
Lying open, miles of it, with no one there –

Untrodden parks and freezing underpasses.
The statuary anonymous, the cobbled chares
Like streams of blackened ice.
There is a bird somewhere. Its voice

Is like chipping an icicle,
Damping the note, then trying again.
We have lived in the wrong place forever,
But now we can see what we meant.

The blue snow-shade behind the house.
The abandoned allotment, the shed,
The rags of willowherb, the one-note
Samba of the bird inside the ice.

from Cousin Coat (Picador, 2002), copyright © Sean O’Brien 2002, used by permission of the author and Macmillan Publishers,

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