Hunters in the Snow
They pass without glancing at the tavern
whose sign hangs half-detached, unhinged
by wintry gales, or the roaring fire outside.
With only a meager fox’s carcass to show
for their daylong labor in the snow, they
trudge down the steep hill to the valley
below. Heads bowed, they do not see
the old woman carrying bundled sticks
like a beast of burden across the arched
bridge that spans the frozen millstream,
returning home after a day of useful toil.
Nor do they notice the skaters gathered
on iced-over ponds that stretch toward
the true heart of this village, the church,
its steeple covered with a snowy mantle.
Yet natural monuments dwarf this spire,
lofty pinnacles of the far off mountains
rising up into the cloudless firmament
where a black bird glides leaving his fellows
perched on the gaunt trees’ leafless boughs
looking down on the hunters in the snow.
World-weary now, homeward bound, they
forget there is grass beneath the snow, that
spring will foliate the trees and fill the land
with game once more, that the ice will melt,
the millwheel turn again, forget forgiving
eyes will greet them at their humble hearths,
and that they will sleep peacefully tonight
in their village, whose heart is the church,
the church with its snow-capped spire.
Ian has an MA in English from Oxford University. He has had short stories and poems published in Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me, Anotherealm, Under the Bed, A Story In 100 Words, Friday Flash Fiction, Dead Snakes, 1947 A Literary Journal, and in various anthologies. He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.