It is a day or two before Christmas
and I walk up the hill behind the house
in soft rain
to the top of the garden
where the woods begin,
to gather greenery.
A sprig of berried holly for the pudding,
variegated ivy to twine around the mantel
and the picture frames in the hall.
Yew boughs and heady pine,
heavy with cones,
to tie to the stair rail with ribbons.
A branch of winter cherry with soft pink blossom
to lay upon the side table with the silver
and the candle sticks.
But at the top of the hill, I am stilled
by the sight of three roe deer,
slim feet deep in fallen leaves on the bank
where daffodils will soon burst into spring.
In the long instant before they flee,
we regard each other
and weigh something.
Then they bound as one through the orchard
where the old things are left for the bonfire,
over the back fence and away,
leaving a small brown
absence in the dusk.
Turning, I look back towards the waiting house
at the bottom of the hill, festive behind curtains
leaking a halo of lamplight
into the late day,
and put my basket down.
Maeve Bruce has an MA in English Literature from the University of Oxford and an MA in Travel and Nature Writing from Bath Spa University. Her poetry has been published by Indigo Dreams Press and Walcot Books.