The Christmas before she leaves home
I appear in the hall baring my single drop of light,
dissolve in warm oils from the south.
I disturb the cold, still air of that house
with my almost imperceptible breathing:
rosy, with undertones of musk, oud, chypre.
Though I am afraid of the dark I prefer it,
soft pressure I can push against, resist.
I rouse in her strange worlds half-formed
but the word I frame for her, in ripples
around the wick, is go. She doesn’t know yet
how to be womanly: she will learn.
Time is falling away fine as snow.
In three winters her grandmother will be gone.
Pippa Little is a poet, mentor and workshop facilitator. Overwintering (Carcanet) came
out in 2012 , Twist (Arc) in 2018: a third collection is forthcoming. She works for The Royal Literary Fund at Newcastle University and lives in Northumberland.