If I close my eyes I can picture him
flitting the hedgerow for splints
or a rib of wood to kindle the fire,
or reading the snow for whatever
it was that came out of the trees
and circled the house in the night;
if I listen I can hear him out
in the kitchen, scudding potatoes,
calling the cat in; if I breathe
I can smell the ghost of a fire,
a burning of leaves that would fizz
in the mizzle before snow.
There is in this house now
a stillness of cat fur and boxes,
of photographs, paperbacks, waste-
paper baskets; a lifetime
of things that I’ve come here
to winter or to burn.
There is in this world one snow fall.
Everything else is just weather.
from Ground Water (Bloodaxe, 2004), © Matthew Hollis 2004, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books