Poem for December

A Winter Morning

By Gerry Cambridge (at aged 14, Ayrshire)

Puddle ice cracked like lightbulb glass.
Frost had furred the last of the hips and haws.
My breath plumed out like a dragon’s
In the cheering cold that morning the class
Was off for the day as the heating had failed –
Off for the week, with luck.

It was a gift, an escape from the wise laws
That governed things, a glimpse
Of possibility, like the thought
Of seeing a waxwing in an Irvine garden,
Or discovering a girl who liked you,
Or waking to find tremendous snow.
Not the escape itself, but it’s fine surprise.

This poem is by Gerry Cambridge (b. 1959). He founded and edits ‘The Dark Horse’, a Scottish -American poetry magazine. From 1997 to 1999 he was Hugh MacDiarmid writing fellow at Brownsbank, Biggar. This poem, based on memories as a teenager growing up in rural Ayrshire in the 1970s, is one of a group of poems in which he explores adolescence. And, for me, this poem took me back to my youth. Hoping for snow, the best present to get for Christmas!

Many happy returns to you all, Isla