Hunters In The Snow

Deborah Benson returns with wintery poetry that draws inspiration from the work of Peter Brueghel to reflect on themes of grief.

                       After Peter Bruegel

A hoverfly has lighted
on my open book,
the gold iridescence of its wings,
its almost transparent body,
a tiny calibrated test tube
of sunlight.
It appears to be cleaning itself,
drawing up the filaments of its legs,
the way a dog uses its paws
to wash its ears.
Beneath it this picture,
the one you asked to look at
when you were dying;
a snowy landscape,
turquoise opacity of frozen water
the same colour as the sky;
detail of foreground and middle distance,
flecks of snow on dark tree trunks,
the curve of a branch where snow has gathered
and where it has not;
the endless glance
of a man carrying something
near a fire. Is he watching
the group of hunters,
backs to us, going downhill?
It could be you, Sandy,
with Davey and Gary,
coming back down the track
from Colleen, the day you were clearing
the barbed wire fences,
followed by all the Misters
who ever lived at the farm,
their paw prints widening
in the snow.
Returning to your life’s landscape,
the icicles hanging from the mill wheel,
the skaters on the pond.
A wagon makes its heavy way
along the snow covered road
towards the distant town beside the sea.

The hoverfly hesitates
and is gone,
all in a moment.
I imagine you entering the town,
your boots dark with the wet snow
your eyes
seeing the sun reflected in high windows
under the snowy gables.