The Melting of the Ice

(This is a re-post of a series of five interconnecting poems, previously blogged as separate poems. The death of my mother last year was preceded by hearing the tone poem Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius, on the radio, and it so completely described how I was feeling that it took me over, and informs the whole series.

As a big nod to Sibelius, I decided to use a loosely-based symphonic structure, so the parts are laid out accordingly. You don't have to listen to Finlandia to enjoy this, but it might help if you did).




Fully charged                                                                    

phones to bed


and in my ears


all cello dread

and turbulent.


Fully charged             

phones to bed;

catnaps anticipate


a tempest, or a fanfare?

Something gathers

on the hills.     


Fully charged

phones to bed


x at the end of every sibling text


we only ever see each other Christmas.


Fully charged

phones to bed



all cello dread

and brass intent



Tableau 1:  Return of the Snow Queen


Masked and passive,

just the drawing of a breath

across her threshold;


she is home in a cage

for a bed, bars prevent

any spillage or descent.


Her chest become a bellows;

body bidding it

to rise

and fall

and rise again,

summoning the will

to act in total independence

of an opiated mind.


We stand to one side

as the medical procession

passes by.



The King is on his knees;

terror re-configures strength

in eyes too scared to see

and hands that cannot bear to touch.


Buttons pressed,


‘you are Husband, you are Man’.


Cheeks wiped,

I take her hand in mine

and show him how to be.


Tableau 2:  Night of Years


Precious little phrase on repeat;

incantation soaring out to settle

dusty words of comfort.


Balm poured to keep us warm,

to soak us in a sense

of que sera sera.


The clock’s slow tock

ticking minutes

off the coil.


Vigil kept for breaking breath;                                               

we sit and tell in every tense

stories for release.


Smokers roll incessantly;

keeping fingers busy and excused

to bury sighs in plume’s relief.


Slow tock ticking

little minutes

off the coil.


Elasticated conversation

wraps around the chasm

of tomorrow, while our

cowardice and expectation

change each other’s mind

upon the hour.


Slow tock

ticking off

the coil.


Precious little phrase on repeat;

incantation soaring out to settle

dusty words of comfort.








Tableau 3:  Tempest


2am came to call.

Storm began to flicker, rise,

raiding every cell of wellness,

strength and hope

of morning light.


Her chest a bellows,

body bidding;

battles raging inwardly,

breaking down defence

on every side.


Shadows cough,

calling Time, spitting

past is present,

though the history is pushed aside,

ignored in a room too small

for the enormity

of now.


Tempest swells the brass intent. 

The King and I sit hand in hand   

in fierce light, while strings shimmer

syncopating rhythms

as the bellows break

to render final bidding.


With tiny tings,

a winter ends


Sibelius calls forth

a new beginning.


Tableau 4:  The Melting of the Ice


Spring-clean, fresh

dressed in flannelette

and floral,

the Snow Queen pales

against her pillow.


Limb-tidy, quiet

in a final contemplation,

seeing neither near nor far

though knowing earth beneath a primal sky

will be the regal destination.


In golden mourn, lilies sing

of innocence beyond,

and line by line

letting go

kaleidoscopic tableaux of emotion

lay to rest

in hymn, divine.


In sibling texts

a reassuring x remains;                                                              

we see each other more

than just at Christmas.





◄ Nativity ‘73 (a re-post)

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Mon 22nd Feb 2016 12:12

In the realm of 'grand', like 'Finlandia', this is outstanding. I cannot imagine a poet divorced from the influence of music; at our best, we work the same 'agenda' upon the human soul. I like the fact that such poetry takes 'work', just as such music does. First the inspiration and then the spade work, to create a passing-across of idea or ideal to another mind.

In my survival of living, I seek only 'simple' - complexities subdued to simple. You see 'simple' raised to complexities that enmesh the mind, like mediaeval philosophers, offering very intense and rewarding insights, exercised with much skill. Your gift is immense. Thanks for sharing it.

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Julian (Admin)

Sun 31st Jan 2016 09:39

Methinks the universe is thanking you for your poetry. I don't think this an emotional piece, but an emotional experience rendered poetic by the understated, controlled writing. It reminds of Elizabeth Bishop's One Art, in avoiding the theatrical, the melodramatic in favour of a restrained release of the narrative over time that permits us to share the experience as your confidants, as we hang on your every word waiting for the next stage of the story. I agree that to hear this promises to be even more powerful.

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Laura Taylor

Wed 27th Jan 2016 13:38

Big thanks to you all for your lovely comments. It was such a huge experience that I had to somehow process it, and the best way for me to do that is through poetry. I think I aged about 10 years that night, mentally and emotionally, and I hadn't known how I was going to feel when it finally came around. It was totally different to what I imagined. I never even liked classical music prior to that!!

So anyway, thank you again, and thank the universe for poetry, eh?!

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Yvonne Brunton

Wed 27th Jan 2016 00:39

To take these intimate moments and cast them so well in words which convey a breathtaking intensity of emotions is a great skill.
I love the way you have linked it with Finlandia. You have coloured the way I perceive that piece now.

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Adam Whitworth

Tue 26th Jan 2016 21:37

Well, I knew there was a reason to keep running back to poetry.

I am now a big Laura Taylor fan.

Congratulations on your so moving poem.

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Jim Trott

Tue 26th Jan 2016 20:01

Oh my goodness.

If I were wearing a hat, I'd take it off to you. One of the best poems I've read in a very long time. Hand on heart.

Congratulations :-)

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Martin Elder

Tue 26th Jan 2016 17:53

Laura this is a magnificent work, something I would love to hear you read. As Stu says an emotional piece.
My favourite stanza begins
' her chest become a bellows' in return of the snow queen

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Stu Buck

Tue 26th Jan 2016 15:53

reading this all together is a very emotional experience.there is so much intimacy (particularly between you and your dad) and moments that perfectly capture the thoughts and feelings of times like that. it fits perfectly with finlandia and the whole thing is just wonderful. im really glad you reposted as a whole, as 1) its allowed me to fully appreciate it and 2) it reminded me of 'tempest swells the brass intent' which is brilliant.

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