By Gillian Clarke
First frost, November. World is steel,
a ghost of goose down feathering the air.
In the square, cars idle to their stalls, as cattle
remembering their place in the affair.
Headlamps bloom and die; a hullabaloo
dances on ice to the golden door.
Inside a choir of children sing, startled
at a rising hum over their shoulders
like a wind off the sea, boulders
rolled in the swell as, sweet and low,
Treorchy Male Voice Choir's basso profundo
whelms them in its flow and undertow,
and hearts hurt with the mystery,
the strange repeated story
of carol, candlelight and choir,
of something wild out there, white
bees of the Mabinogi at the window,
night swirling with a swarm of early snow.
• From Ice (Carcanet £9.95). To order a copy for £7.96 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop