They say everything looks different
when you draw back the shutters
and the land has become hard, covered, brilliant,
and the light has found a million crystals to spark into life,
and the sea has become a place to stand and cross with ease –
a rough place made smooth.
On mornings like this I like to stand apart for a while
and look at how all has become different:
people talking who normally pass by with a nod,
adults setting aside their commerce for a while to play,
locked-in boats sharing the enforced rest,
indoors warmth seeming all the warmer for the contrast.
And then I wonder;
what would it take to change the pattern of our days more fully
so that our transformations are no mere interruption?
What would it take to make all rough places smooth,
all deserts habitable?
What would it take to break the patterns and habits of our injustices?
For sure, it would take a coming more brilliant than this winter morning,
but something tells me it starts with something smaller than crystals of ice:
the startling alignment of cells in a womb;
the simple cadences of the words of a promise.
[Hendrick Avercamp’s Winter Landscape, early C17th, is on display in the National Gallery of Scotland]