Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Watercolour by Tony Taylor http://www.paintingbreaksguernsey.com

Sunday, 4 January 2015

SLOPING OFF

Winter in Guernsey tends to be a low-key affair. Seldom do we experience the climactic extremes of Britain or the European mainland. Over the past week, there have been blizzard conditions in some parts of the UK and, amazingly, heavy snowfall as far south as Sicily, an event unique in living memory.
On those rare occasions that we do experience snowfall on the island, life grinds to a halt, schools close and shops and offices operate with skeleton staff. In short, chaos reigns for a day or two. The odd snowman makes an appearance but the only adventurous activity that we can look forward to is a slippery shuffle to the nearest shop to discover whether the UK newspapers have arrived or, indeed, whether the shop is even open.
In Northern Ireland, one of the great joys of winter is the inevitable annual snowfall and the opportunity to slip away quietly with a toboggan and, ideally, some offspring to justify one's own childish glee. I have countless happy memories of adventures on the hills at Stormont when my daughter was a child. Nowadays her sons enjoy the same snowy thrills on those old familiar slopes. 




TOBOGGANING

The seat feels quite precarious
but once he’s down, that feeling goes.
So rare to be this close to snow,
chilling the fingertips, the nose:
icy sensations lost to those
in indoor places, various,

or barred, by age or lack of kids
from winter days on rowdy hills
where children’s voices, wild and shrill,
applaud this crazy vaudeville
of adults launched, against their will,
downhill at speed on icy skids.

This granddad hugs his grandson tight
then edges forward on his heels
on modern blades of stainless steel.
The child, as agile as an eel,
squeals for his mum: his granddad feels
earth fall away, their sleigh take flight.

A longing for a lifetime lost,
assails him in the rushing wind.
The grandson to his parka pinned,
as once his daughter, angel-skinned,
clung to him then, their bodies twinned,
rocketing downward through the frost. 



This poem appears in my second collection Strange Journey, available from this site.

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