Henri Province in Wessex

By JOSEPH HARRISON

Now, when the thatch-roofed cottages

Send up their puffs and curls

From heating folk and pottages,

And steadily thickening swirls

 

Of snow-feathers settle, limning

Lintels and mullioned panes,

And door lanterns waver, dimming,

And rusty weather vanes

 

Creak as they flip directions like

Befuddled gyroscopes,

A chilling bleakness seems to strike

Down all too human hopes

 

For what the year now past would bring

And how our lives would change,

Before our goals for everything

Had drifted out of range

 

(Time set aside for self-improvement

Got taken up like slack;

The old inertias stymied movement;

She never called you back).

 

When I, to see what prevents me,

Go blundering outside,

The blank the winter presents me

Scintillates far and wide

 

With all distinct articulation

Of coppice, hedge, and heather

Erased in glazed disanimation

By all-encasing weather

 

That levels whatever playing field

We thought the game was on,

And levels us, who stand revealed

As going, if not gone.

 

An influence presents itself

Where all this absence is,

As if one old book on my shelf

Inscribed precisely this,

 

As if down an empty country lane

I saw Thomas Hardy go,

Ghosting the track of some whitened pain

Like boot-prints filled by snow.

 

 

Joseph Harrison is the author of two books of poetry, Someone Else’s Name and Identity Theft

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Henri Province in Wessex

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