A WINTRY country ramble from Vivien Jones's new collection, Short of Breath (Cultured Llama Publishing).

Jones lives on the Solway Firth. Her writing has been widely broadcast on BBC radio; in 2010 she won the Poetry London Prize.


Branches, brittle and silvered,

scrape past each other rasping

a hollow song into the still air.

The path through the icy woodland


Sunday families walk their kids,

their dogs running,

out and back, out and back.

Laughter and barks split the air,

woollen scarves like flags waving.

A promise of a tea-time treat

drives numb-fingered children on,

the wood hums,

populous as any Breughel painting.

Grey light shrinking,

the wood darkens.

Three-day frost, turning

again back from the melt,

building hoar-frost towers,

crystal on crystal.

An owl launches in silence

the moment before,

with gunshot bedlam,

the branch snaps.