Friday, 30 January 2015

Хляб и свещи/Bread and candles

The ivy leaves sheened with frost
attend more changes in the weather:
an inhospitable climate, you’d say,
drawing tactful attention to
welcome contrasts indoors.

Bread and candles give out
their promises in this small space –
not great statements into the world
of headlines and outrage, but light
and sustenance, the waxy smell,
the taste of recent harvest.
And here, at this table, it’s as if
I’ve not had time to think of this before.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Гората и снегът/The forest and the snow

Being from the lowlands,
I didn’t see mountains
until I was sixteen, woke up
in the passenger seat
under violet Alpine crags
as if driving into illustrated pages
of a geography textbook
or coffee-table travel magazine:
a homeopathic dose of disbelief.

Still something uncanny’s to be made
of roads which climb from suburbs
through forests secluding fugitive stories
to the last point tarmac reaches
and beyond watery refrozen melts
the snowfields proper open:
after first demanding redefinition
words slowly diminish like the oxygen –
until here, and not even above the tree line,
they can be let go, left to their own devices.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Светлината на зима/Light of winter

Hardly star-crossed, though out in the cold,
my boots print meaningless hieroglyphs
across a blank page of snow:
each muffled footfall sinks,
as in dream-walking, back,
as if I’ve nowhere else to go.

Rooks fleck branching spines,
conjure distance with rasped crakes:
omen pedlars, disreputable seers
(though not their fault to be so misread).
As Orpheus knew, best not look back
nor too far forward either.
Hibernating fugitives will return
to inhabit their vacant spaces.

And of course across a clearing
there it is – the look light has
behind winter glass,
orange swag from a horizontal sun:
and that, love, though little,
will prove to be as much or more than enough.

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips

Saturday, 10 January 2015


The crunch, the give,
the taste of it, illusory solid
melting in chilled fingers –
and networks of tracks
recording night traffic
of cats, dogs, foxes, birds:

in winter light, snow insulates
tendril branches, softens
outlines of house and road,
promises remembered adventure –
the sense, on waking early, that
wrapped up warm in hat and coat
we’d be exploring a temporary world.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Щастлива Нова Година/Happy New Year

Again one calendar announces its own end,
while another makes its promises –
and across a translucent sky
jet trails arrow eastward.

The cherry tree is a globe
of bare branches, a neural map
of something waiting to be achieved.
The holly’s still in fruit.

How easy to be hard on yourself
in this hiatus between routines
when love and friendship have a chance
to come into focus: not so much a time
of renunciation and resolution,
as a time of gifts and prospects.

The image here is one of the illustration's from 'Nicholas - The Stolen Reindeer', the children's story which is now available as an app, with a text by Tom and illustrations by Marina. 

Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips