Ice Age

The recent cold weather, and the unusual amount of snow which fell here in Dunbar, got me thinking about what might happen if we had the return of an Ice Age. It’s a real possibility if the North Atlantic Conveyor (AKA the Gulf Stream) is stopped, and some climatologists think that the melting of the Greenland icecap, triggered by global warming, might be enough to stop it by flooding the surface waters with cold fresh water from melting ice bergs. So, given that this week’s Eyemouth writing group (Eyewrite) had the theme of ‘cold’, this poem wrote itself:

Ice Age

Down by the sea shore we saw no dark edge
to the white horizon. Pressure ridges
rose and fell with the tides,
creating temporary mountain ranges
with spiky summits. Far out, way beyond walking,
huge bergs growled and cracked on the swell,
pushed nearer by an unkind wind.
They streamed out from the Denmark Strait,
down the Sea of Labrador, across the track
of the dead Gulf Stream, these blue leviathans,
mountains of solid water.

Inland, we walked to the hills, foraging for firewood,
tramping through a fresh layer of powder snow,
avoiding the drifts and the cornices overhanging
the cliffs. Last year’s snow poked through the crust
in places, wind-sculpted, sun-eroded, slowly compressing
as layer upon layer recrystallised to ice, and began to flow
down to the sea.

In the petrified forest, as the wind rose,
dead songbirds fell out of the trees.

Colin Will


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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4 Responses to Ice Age

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    Apart from using contemporary names there’s not much to distinguish this from the last ice age. I’m not saying you need to include the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the snow but I think it needs a little something more to underline dystopia for me, a frozen oil tanker perhaps. I do like the final stanza though.

  2. Rachel Fox says:

    I like the mood of this.

  3. goforchris says:

    Echoes for me of Edwin Muir’s “The Horses” – and of “On the Beach at Cambridge” by Adrian Mitchell. I like the final two lines. Had the news about the dead birds broken when you wrote it?

  4. sunnydunny says:

    I remember the dead birds in the 1962/3 winter, when I was living in Bathgate.

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