I gathered up the fallen boughs,
their skin still green and fresh,
before the frost turned bark to rime
and froze their wooden flesh.
The pine-trees’ fingers, sharp as thorns,
I tied them up with string,
and kept them safe, all Winter long,
to usher in the Spring.
I picked the berries, one by one,
the hollies’ ruby beads
as red as any woman’s blood –
prolific scarlet seeds.
I wrapped them in a paper shroud,
securing them with string,
protecting them, all Winter long,
repositories of Spring.
I stole the oak trees’ scalloped leaves,
the hornbeams’ deckled palms
that lay across the ground in drifts;
I filled my outstretched arms,
the curling stars shot through with gold.
I fastened them with string,
preserving them, all Winter long,
in promises of Spring.
I harvested the tiny nuts
of acorns from hard earth,
their egg-shaped bodies fertile with
new promises of birth.
Secreting them in muslin cloth,
I held them fast with string,
to treasure them, all Winter long,
until they brought the Spring.
I wove a crown of witch-hazel
with yellow blooms ablaze;
a substitute for absent sun
throughout the shortest days.
A homespun coronet, its magic
held in place with string,
and worn by me, all Winter long,
my thoughts all of the Spring.
I safeguarded my talismans
throughout the brittle dark,
an essence of new life bound up
in berry, leaf and bark,
until the seasons turned, when I
released them from their string.
They’d cast their spells, all Winter long –
we welcomed in the Spring.
Originally published in Three Drops Press’ Midwinter anthology, 2016; reprinted in Bedford Square 10 Royal Holloway College Creative Writing anthology, 2017