Kennick Burn

Kennick Burn, Laurieston Forest

Taken during heavy snowfall in January, huge flakes settled over the forest making an icy white wonderland.

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© Catherine Coulson 2018

From Low Lands poetry chapbook:

Winter, Kennick Burn, late January

Near January end

the snow falls again

over Laurieston pass

here, the wet sludgy half-snow 

turns solid and crystalline 

large softnesses floating downward

the road and edge merge 

into an expanse of whiteness

winding through nature

The forest is transformed

into an otherworldly vision,

the usually veiled darkness within

highlighted by a unity

of tiny upward-resting particles


snowflakes steadily descend between fir tops,

coming to rest silently on the soft crust –

stirring thoughts of all who have lived 

and passed before us through time, 

a multitude drifting through life’s progression 

to settle on earth’s inevitable cumulus. 

The burn provides a clearing from the wood

a view of the tree line on the far bank.

First snow, whisked with airy volume

untarnished by patina or melt.

Beauty, exquisite and fathomless

in its transformed complexity, 

depth and layers not noticeable with air

are traced with haunting, aching clarity

each fine stick and surface illuminated 

and softened to create a faded vision 

in delicate monochrome.


Bowing laden branches

dip heavily into the river

water glugging steadily,


against the banks,

gentle sounds

along the smooth-flowing flats.

here and there, obstacles

cause sparkling splashing eddies,

traversing branches stuck against the flow.

The usual whiteness of the falls

now milky brown agate

against the pure snowy banks.

Even under the larch grove

the snow lies thick on the ground

softness upon needled softness

compressing underfoot.


Long white vertical lines reach skyward,

bare plantation trunks

their ridged and textured bark

filled with clinging snow,

looking up, the tops form shapes,

touching branches curved into arcs

and rounds, woven and suspended

like webs across the totemic structures.

Solitary beech leaves provide the only colour

richly brown and paper thin, glowing

against a backdrop of dusted bright sticks.

Layer on layer of whites

of falling flakes and glittering branches,

diffuse mist and light

brightening in the distant gaps between trees,

powerfully luminous yet flat and uniform

reflected in from lying snow at forest edge.


© Catherine Coulson 


from Low Lands poetry chapbook