Simon West, ‘Winter: Prali’
It was hard to believe you weren’t there with us, Franca,
where we stood on the icy road above the town.
The snow had covered every daily colour
and turned each human thought inward to warmth.
Beyond the houses and over the river only
the tops of stone walls floundering in white
marked the cemetery from fields
which in summer had been paddocks of hay.
Someone had dug those months down to the earth:
a humus balm, dark and gleaming with ice,
a sinister fecundity from which the line
of people stretched across the bridge to town.
Words around me were muffled until
one whose bold vowels rang clear:
‘Era ...’. And from my mouth, too, it was born
in a frosted coalescence of air: ‘she was’, for ever more.