The Crone of Winter




The Crone of Winter stands with her back against the frost
Her hair is carved from ivory, her moustache made of moss.
Her brow it furrows hard as ice above her hollow eyes
And when the wind begins to howl, she joins in with its cries.
Her gemstone orbs, as blue as ice, shine with mottled glee
And stream with crystal teardrops, as salty as the sea.

She watches the first snowflakes lightly scorch the ground
And laughs as drifts begin to form on every ditch around.
She trails a cloak of spiders' webs about her rime-starched dress
Which flows like liquid oxygen and cowls her drooping breast.
Her fingers sharp and twisted, like the branches of the trees,
Scratch with chalk-board jarring on the edges of the breeze.

Her gilded slippers crush the life from insects under foot
Animals weak, from deer to sheep, fall with just one look.
Words decay the stench of death, whispered soft and clear,
Lost upon Siberian winds that mortals never hear.
When she sings icicles chime like churchyard bells
Her smile likened only to the frosty gates of Hell.

Between her glass-translucent nails, she spins a hoary dust
Glitt'ring like moths' wings, scented with stag musk.
Wheresoever it doth fall - on birds, or trees, or children's eyes -
They are protected from the cold, through winter they survive.
She holds within her full-moon palm the gift of life and death
With one hand she doth give the gift; she takes it with one breath.

Queen of the Boreal, she has a thousand names
To her our whole existence is but one scornful game.
She lives as long as winter, and longer than the years
She knows our hopes, our dreams, our thoughts, our deepest inner fears.
Yet all of this, in knowing, no compassion does she spare
She never dwells upon it, and neither does she care.

She sees so little born in the season she purveys
All she looks on perishes beneath her granite gaze
Nothing ever grows, around her or within
A mother or a lover, she has never been.
How can compassion grow, in one compassionless;
We do not care for her, why should she care for us?

All around, soft powder lies, fine as diamond dust
The sharp North Winds go riding by, howling out their lust
And the Crone of Winter stands with her back against the frost
Thinking on her loneliness; counting out the cost.
For once she loved the Summer King, when the world was new
She kept this feeling locked inside, hidden from his view.

Back then there was no winter, no coldness in the world
She had been a Countess, skin as bright as pearl.
She'd dressed each day in morning, she'd slept in Twilight's shade
She'd walked each dewy evening along a scented promenade
Filled with honeysuckle, sweet jasmine and night stock
Up beyond the moon, and the meteor's burning rock.

She'd sit herself beside a fount, flowing with white blood
The gods' own very nectar, that gave life to the mud.
She'd listen to the nightingale sing its soulful song
She'd wait there every evening, she didn't care how long
Just to catch a glimpse of him, the burning Summer King
His presence hot and powerful: lion's claw and nettle sting.

To look upon him hurt her eyes, it hurt her heart much more
Yet still she couldn't tear her eyes from what she thought she saw:
A little twinkle in his look, a second's favoured glance
Conveying through the Milky Way a thought that made her blanch
An image in her mind of them lying side-by-side
A look that told her quietly, he knew her deep inside.

Those were eternally happy days, love's hope grew undisturbed
A rose amongst its cousins: life's spice and childhood's herbs.
No worms came to burrow the roots, nor blackfly plague the leaves
Every day a new bud bloomed; expectation towered tall as trees
But into every heart garden, eventually falls some rain
And into hers a monsoon blew of sorrow, hate and pain.

One day she'd waited half the year and still he hadn't come
Anguish twisted at her lips; where was her handsome Sun?
Eventually she saw him, stood there fine as day
A look of love shone in his eyes but, to her dismay,
She saw an awful truth in her all-consuming King
For he was gazing past her; gazing past her, into Spring.

Her stomach gave a lurch, breath fled from both her lungs
Bile rose in her throat and burned across her tongue
She closed her eyes and locked herself away in darkest night
She cried away her beauty, her youth and looks took flight
Blood froze in her veins. All warmth, like steam, did rise
And when, at last, she opened them, snow fell from the skies

All the goodness of her soul had floated up above
Falling down to earth as icy, unrequited love.
Her sorrow was so great, her hatred was so strong
That all the earth was void of joy, everything was gone
Buried beneath a blanket of her suffocating grief
Sparing not a single plant, not a berry, bird or leaf.

As Summer fell for Spring and bore their Autumn child
Winter vanquished all the earth; fearsome, rough and wild
Savage in her loathing, time never helped to heal
Forgetting what it's like to love, to hope, to think, to feel.
Instead she turned the darker arts of murder and mistrust
All that glittered gold before had quickly turned to rust.

But Summer's blaze burns just as strong as Winter's fearsome rage
And as the dawn of time grows old, and aeons pass and age
As universes spin and turn, the cosmos reels and gleams,
As tides dance, stars implode, rain transforms to steam
As morning dawns, noon marches on, as sunlight starts to dim
Half the year belongs to her, and half belongs to him.

And so the Crone of Winter turned her back against the world
Engulfed in snow-white flakes that all around her swirled
Leaving not one footprint in the ashes of her life
She sighed a breath of Nordic wind, sharp as any knife,
And sprinkling that mystic dust softly o'er her eyes,
She prayed an end to solitude; to see a new sunrise.