Hollow Way (shorter version)

A terrible pale beauty lies, fallen
On the open common land – wintered,
Othered, penetrated cold and dry by frost –
Ringing hard and brittle as old anvil iron;
A shimmering hoar across its eastern flank,

The northern face a sterner, steeper ground,
Down to the hollow way long-shadowed
Where frost carpets deepen, untouched
Except by ice, each hastening the other,
Suspended on the cusp of nothingness;

A barely-loosened grip, lessened for
An hour or two, by day, by winter’s sun, itself
Mocked distant impotent as darkness
And the patient night return,
Hanging in near-solstice stasis;

Faded autumn lines now rigored sharp:
Trailing bramble leaves white-traceried,
Epitome of vigour, invasiveness writ large,
Clenched, defined and crisp in winter death,
Frozen from within, preserved against decay and life.

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