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Shostakovich - 8th String Quartet, 1st movement

Lee Harwood

Slabs of grey rock    sliding to black

ledges and holds     ice       watch that

a wrong move     sometimes just by luck

and stupid confidence        on up the cleft

and swing over onto        brush the snow out

the way        beside your face snow crystals studding

the ice glazed rock          hardly noticeable

the dull glimmer of it

The air        a diffuse grey glow           below

a lace of snow fidgeting on the small frozen lake

down there      through this glittering space

a strange stillness            a pause in the search

through a maze     choices upwards       a slanting crack

a vertical line          move one after the other

up blocks of rock       off         how      the hand grips

and the shoulders heave          a castle of sorts

a prize of sorts

On my knees now       staring in disbelief


a snow flurry over a horizon of black spikes

an empty untouched snow-field ahead      steeply slanting

pitched off into air


From Poetry Wales Vol 29 No 1 (March 1993)