open the skylight

   despite the drop below zero

led by the soft sleet’s

   patter of promise on glass


drawn to the mist

   of forming dew and diesel fumes

all phenomenal sounds are

   muffled into white noise

pocked by smothered fireworks


one of us tries to remember

   a time we weren’t haunted-

a memory of cold as

   division dampener-


frost furs rules

   the way ice joins leaves in a carpet


   explosions refracted through fog

linger on retinas as long as the bounce

   of their sound through valleys


stripes of streetlight

   frame the dark of the park

and the halting red shift

   of signals three crow miles off

      on manor top


   it’s there the thought pauses in traffic

dragged from the warped nostalgia

   TV series tucked up the Gleadless valley

to the reverberant air of caves


there’s something we need to remember

something whose dream

   we’ve rewound so often

      its playback is more noise than image


we drift    I drift    sifting the crackle

   back to grykes and becks

      that laid down their patterns

         as rhythms that run through

           our words and the rain

our landscape and veins

   both stilled by the clutch of the cold-


past screes up on Attermire Scar

in cave systems named for the crown

a daydream dammed our world’s course



   now back at the skylight

the city’s drone

   begins to differentiate


particulars clang apart

   as the eye acclimatizes

      and the eardrum comes taut


five of us wonder

   in separate streets

some sheeted by storm water

   some lakes of floodlight and mica

all fading away as we try to right them


we duck and press earlobes

   to oncoming dogfights

      and the silent oblivion of rocket flight

the faces screamed into dust

the memory dawning this fright


five years old and the torch dies

   with our father’s voice in the echoing karst

where the clock hands of stalactite drips tick forever

   and void lifts the veil from your eyes


as the street sound recedes

   and the fog curtains in

      and sirens diminuendo


a form takes shapes

   in the dancing cave shadows

      and – hands shaking –

that five year old

   we part-control

      rubs warmth into the batteries


a tungsten flicker

   strobes a prayer through the nothing

before laughter smothers everything

   and the light tide retreats

      to the filament’s dimming coil


it’s on you now –


or be gone


Ben Dorey