Icy air bites at fingertips and ears
with teeth as sharp as a kitten’s
Talcum-soft snowflakes drift down through the lamplight
to kiss naked branches, car bonnets, tongues
Church spires and clock towers
sketch a fairy tale silhouette on a bleached sky
Audacious stone bridges
leap like gazelles over deep gorges
Skeletal trees grimly shiver
preoccupied with dreams of spring weddings
A frozen weekend market
clutters the grand designs of a cobbled city square
Stained glass of claret-red, cobalt-blue and shamrock-green,
throbs in the narrow arched windows of Baroque cathedrals.
“Soldes” signs march crisply across every shop window
Walking eiderdowns march crisply down broad boulevards
Bundles of feathers squat disconsolately on the frozen pond, craving skates?
Bundles of fabric squat disconsolately on glacial pavements, craving ciggies
Lonely tables cower under windswept awnings, craving the summer crowds
Lone men pace and puff like steam trains on the pavements outside the bars.
And we stroll on, hands deep in our pockets,
regarding this strange new world with awe:
A world where all senses seem muted,
like a silent, black and white movie,
bar the sound of winter boots clipping the cobblestones.