I was going through half finished word documents from last year (there are a fair few with beginnings of characters and ideas started then abandoned) and found this.  It’s a poem I wrote for my brother in December which I considered making into a picture book before I got into the falcon idea.  Maybe I’ll get it done this year, though.  In fact, maybe I’ll do a collection of story-poems based on Edinburgh streets and illustrate the whole thing… if you think that idea has legs, please leave a comment!

The background to this one is that my brother and I were crossing Great King Street in Edinburgh and both slipped on a wee patch of black ice.  However, the temperature was a balmy 6 or 7 degrees and there was no ice or snow or anything anywhere else – so naturally we got suspicious.  Why was that bit icy, when everywhere else was fine?  Clearly the answer was magic.

Under the cobbles
Of Great King Street
Something was freezing
Beneath John-Jack’s feet.

A small patch of ice was there
All the year through
In winter and spring
And those other ones, too.

His grandmother told him
“John-Jack, listen here!
That isn’t a puddle
With icy veneer;

It’s a dangerous portal
To worlds barely known
Small boys what go near it,
May never get home.”

But John was a sceptic
(As kids are, these days).
He thought his old gran
Spoke from cryptic malaise

Twas one Christmas morn
To the ice patch he skipped
Whilst unknowing family
Festive coffee they sipped

“It’s barely a puddle,”
Quoth he, “it’s bad luck!
A cobble once lay there,
That’s now come unstuck

And filled in with moisture
Then froze hard and clear
It stays ‘cause it’s cold
No mysteries here.”

Then quick as a flash
With a broken glass sound
Up through the ice
Shot a hand, which unwound

Sinister fingers
With long jagged nails
Grasping around
For some prey to assail.

They wrapped round his ankle
With cold, vice like grip
He fell to his knees
And wobbled his lip

But such protestations
Were lost on the hand
Which pulled him below
To a strange frozen land.

The people who lived there
Were cruel and cold
And none of them seemed
To get very old

Meanwhile the landscape
Was empty and stark
With no nat’ral light
It always was dark.

John stayed with the snow witch
The rest of his days
(Which, as it happened
Was not a long phase)

His family mourned him
On each Christmas day
And wondered what happened –
The police couldn’t say.

Gran had an inkling
The answer was near
Though quite why she thought it
Her mind wasn’t clear

Because she had warned him
“Avoid Great King Street!
Where something is freezing
Right under your feet.”