by Sinéad Morrissey
was not like last winter, we said, when winter
had ground its iron teeth in earnest: Belfast
colder than Moscow and a total lunar eclipse
hanging its Chinese lantern over the solstice.
Last winter we wore jackets into November
and lost our gloves, geraniums persisted,
our new pot-bellied stove sat unlit night
after night and inside our lungs and throats,
embedded in our cells, viruses churned out
relaxed, unkillable replicas of themselves
in the friendlier temperatures. Our son
went under. We'd lie awake, not touching,
and listen to him cough. He couldn't walk
for weakness in the morning. Thoracic,
the passages and hallways in our house
got stopped with what we would not say—
how, on our wedding day, we'd all-at-once
felt shy to be alone together, back
from the cacophony in my tiny, quiet flat
and surrounded by flowers.
• From Parallax (Carcanet), which won the TS Eliot prize this week. To order a copy for £7.19 with free UK p&p go to guardianbookshop.co.uk or call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846.