Listen to Julia read 'About slithering':
(Sue Ryder Christmas Card)
Here they come now beetling across the mantelpiece
on skates like harpoons under heavy skirts or sagging ochre leggings
heading out to party party at the flat world's edge.
One couple's overdressed for this, she in her apron frills and ruff,
he in puff pantaloons, some kind of hothead weapon at the hip;
behind, three cloak and dagger types in cavalier hats poke fun
while bottom right two lads who have just vandalised a privy
to expose a backside in full flow run off, half scandalised themselves.
Even the fenceposts totter drunkenly as if inclined to start something.
What is this glassy limboland though? Where does earth end
and the sky begin? Beyond the painter's unseen high ground
and some sketchy reed banks there is no relief
and from the shanty town of sheds and huts,
with every craft that might have floated hopelessly holed up,
a sinking feeling spreads.
Is it the trees' black fingers cracking up the sky?
The hellish props - tattered windbreaks, gibbets, joint stools -
fished from Hieronymus's skip? The dearth of decent carpenters?
Or just the sunlessness - the only warmth a puny blaze
lit recklessly in mid-ice?
Far right there's half a posher red-bricked house,
its odd hipped gable partly covering a dark high window
like a cowled eye.
Below, a woman at a stable door observes,
not softened by the winter's smile.