The Woods In Winter (Rough first draft)
We lost the path hours ago
and the snow isn’t looking
quite as beautiful now.
We should have listened to them,
you say, stopping again to hook
your puffy fingers underneath
the tongues of your boots.
It’s been a while since you complained
about the pain, and I wonder if any
of your digits will be saved, or if
frostbite is overrated.
I left my wilderness survival guide
on the coffee table, pages unturned.
You stiffly flick out disks of compact
snowflakes and we continue.
You want water. I ignore you.
We march for a few steps,
powering through, but quickly return
to our slow shuffle.
You left your gloves in the car
so you could use your iPhone,
so we wouldn’t get lost.
You dropped your phone
somewhere before we lost the path.
The grey stone pub we were at
before the walk was close to the ground
and warm, hazy with pipe smoke, thick
with the smell of damp wool drying,
hay and cooked haggis.
Around the bar, farmers with winter
worn knuckles and rutted brows
hunched themselves over dark pints.
Knitted hats steamed in front of the open fire,
which crackled, spat and threw out
heat as dense and as sweet as honey.
The barmaid wasn’t wearing makeup,
and her red hair curled into pretty knots.
She said we shouldn’t go into the woods,
that the weather was to take a turn and amongst
the trees was a bad place to be for city folk.
Everyone in the bar said we shouldn’t
go out into the snow. They made the effort
to turn on their stools, to look at us and speak
individually, each giving a reason why it would
be smart to hold off our walk.
We didn’t listen. Said our goodbyes.
Someone in the city had said Scottish
people overreact about the weather,
make it out to be worse than it is.
It’s so quiet out here.
We didn’t notice at first, as we ate
our granola bars minutes after leaving
the pub, downed our water after
the first steep incline.
They were talking about reintroducing
wolves or something, I say.
You don’t reply.
You’ve stopped again and hold your hands
in front of your face. But you’re not
looking at your hands.
You fall backwards into the snow.
There’s no noise on impact.
You start laughing, the noise
hits the trees, comes back to meet us.
Then the tears begin and the screaming.