The Howe

Sunlight, the long beam, the 
striking golden finger barely 
warming old old stone that 
withholds itself and 
changes for no thing

our breath blooming white in the 
chiselled air and some heaving 
at the stone - cold sweat, frozen 
fingers - and we are in 
to silence and the bones -

brought more this 
shortest day, the long low sun 
glistening the snow - few 
words, only breath and 
feet scraping, grunts of

effort as we push and drag, 
then the next layer - unplugging, 
ramps and manoeuvering 
difficult as the fire flickers and 
magnifies our shifting darting

shadows on the angles of 
our walls.   Open, dust disturbed, 
white-gleams and red wool, beads, 
cups, weapons, tools, pots I remember 
making -

the gentle access, careful placing 
and, done, the gritty heavy 
heave as plugs are shifted, lifted, 
in.   The sun rolls 
down and darkness makes the silence

thicker, chasing us out with 
bent backs before the disappearing 
light: at our turn we feel 
the last of warmth in a 
world of white.   Busy with the door-
stone we think on 
fires and food, company, voices 
welcoming us home, away 
from the gone, the year's chore 
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