It rained when it should have snowed.
When we went to gather holly
the ditches were swimming, we were wet
to the knees, our hands were all jags
and water ran up our sleeves.
There should have been berries
but the sprigs we brought into the house
gleamed like smashed bottle-glass.
Now here I am, in a room that is decked
with the red-berried, waxy-leafed stuff,
and I almost forget what it’s like
to be wet to the skin or longing for snow.
I reach for a book like a doubter
and want it to flare round my hand,
a black-letter bush, a glittering shield-wall
cutting as holly and ice.