It was a difficult year.
As could be expected, frost
the fields and
promptly lost its hold.
in patterns that could not be read
as he knew he had once had the power
to read them before.
Struggling each morning
over a burgeoning maze of
ice, crammed with the stems of
and–down in one corner
a solitary crocus. The unreadiness of which
troubled him with nagging disproportion.
For many nights, he lay below the eaves
on the bed he had kept since childhood
and thought about the burden of the land
which, alongside other fleeting things;
robins, battling with a ferocity
incongruent to their size–
the steady reliability of returning cows
lending their breath to the evening
had compelled him to witness
the terrible and unspoken diminishment
of his parent’s strength.
The swiftness of its passing only matched
by the slowly mounting bitterness
of barely weathered winters.
But things were not always as linear
as it seemed that they would be. When the frost
and this time did its job–
blanketing the fields
with a patent uniformity of bleakness
It seemed that he was able to find, or was provided with
only under condition of that extremity
some lingering reminder of a sweetness.
He felt it, some days
in things as unassuming as the light
for one last burst of intensity
over a colourless sky
and, on others
through the quiet observation of his father.
Noticing in him
some reservoir of undiluted strength
kept, only for the most demanding
of physical tasks.
Or, on another occasion
after the frost had melted for a second time
the cautious re-assumption of a reverence
with which he approached the space
three stalls down from the store.
Accustomising its resident
to the startling coldness of a metal disc
and moving its surface to sound
the unwavering presence
of two neat calves;
hammocked in blood
under the ilium
which jutted like a blade
in lonelier seasons.
Coming in, the brightness of those lights
ranged in silent rows—great swathes of fire
shimmering their way
to the quiet inconclusion
of the shadows in Ardale lane
was heightened, even then
by some unnameable aspect of the evening air
to the perfect epitome of heartbreak.
It is a lasting blueness—
steady as the dogs
that warm their worn-out bones
at hunting sites, and sites for burning flesh
and the poorly lit margins
of historical advancements.
Variations of which
might be seen to lurk
in faded reproductions
of spaces evocative of romance.
or the borders of café squares.
Or—with more useful relevance
to the purposes of our example
some well-known minor impressionist’s
most celebrated image of a street scene
in the foreground of which
from under a growing exhaustion
a woman lifts her glass.
The artless precision of her movement
muddied into check
by something like a pall;
of terror, or watered chalk.
It was in similar straits
that my father and I
sat in careful thought
in a far corner of the Eagle.
My father was weeping then—
in such a way that only I could see
after the memory of a friend.
The reckless and impossible hope
of his own bright start
lost to a length of rope
in some bitter and long-gone corner
of the family home.
Optical science suggests
that many of the capabilities of human sight
should be as impossible
as witness accounts
of certain religious miracles.
But still my father’s tears
carried on falling. Flowing freely then
over the ash-scarred surfaces of our table.
And might have been accused
for sake of an easier out
of lessening his ability to protect me
from the mysteries of his grief
or the curious and visibly important men
who hurried around our table.
But I have never really been convinced
by such tired-out notions
as the finitude of grace
and I was already lost—
in the details of a painting
years and years away
from the pressures of linear time
and something my mother had said
about the methods some little-known ceramicist had employed
in order to fuse the skeletons
of anaesthetised mice
into a setting glaze.
—Published 28th of May 2022
About Anna Forbes
Anna Forbes is from Edinburgh, She studied at King’s College London, where she obtained a degree in Comparative Literature. Her poetry has featured in a range of publications including Antiphon, the Fortnightly Review, and Southbank Poetry.