the calm before the storm

weather forecast screenshot

I think a lot of people feel that 2019 hasn’t been the easiest of years. There have certainly been highs and lows in my own life, and I gather that even the Queen recognised something of the sort in her Christmas speech. I didn’t watch the speech, but the report on Time website says:

Talking about the need for reconciliation and forgiveness, Elizabeth says: “The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.”

Perhaps that’s why my attention was caught by the weather forecast this morning, which showed a constant and unexceptionable temperature all day long.

Feeling positive – briefly – I thought of calling this post “smooth sailing”. But a moment’s thought made me realise that the apparent calm is unlikely to last. Hence the actual title.

I fear that the way ahead is probably going to be just as dark as the path we’ve been travelling along recently.

Streetlamp reflected in puddle

And it will probably have just as many brambles and briars.

bramble thorns

I looked through my files for a suitable poem to illustrate my mood. But most of the storms I’ve written about are summer storms, which didn’t seem appropriate for the time of year.

So here is a very old piece that I never quite finished as I couldn’t find the right line breaks and could never bring myself to get rid of the purple.


The tree is whittled to a yellow cage, where nine-tailed winds have flayed quick flesh, and emery tongues of rain have scoured the boughs to polished ivory.

And yet the heart still nests in this bone tree. Feeding on eggshell memory, she covers her nakedness with shreds of green. A strand of sunshine sometimes casts a blush across her cheek.

In spring she dusts her feathers down: washing the ragged plumes in brine, she flusters, prinks and preens. From bleached twigs, thorns and sodden moss she contrives a wedding gown.

It was easy enough to find a photo of a bare tree to illustrate that.

Bare winter tree

Or perhaps this rather bone-like tree trunk would work better.

Ficus tree trunk

But the poem makes it clear that we never really give up hope. So, although I think there are storms ahead, let’s finish this year with a hint of sunlight as provided by the neighbour’s winter jasmine.

Winter jasmine flower

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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