The Beast from the East

This idea of the farm and lambs was inspired by the poetry session at Scarborough Writers’ Circle on 14th February, the inspiration behind the snow needs no explanation as it’s currently topical, unfortunately.

This piece was written for the next Scarborough Writers’ Circle on 13th March.

The Beast from the East

Funny how we can remember where we were the moment we heard Elvis had died, or when Kennedy was shot, or even when Diane took her last breath. But it’s only when the icy blast is in our midst that we remember the weather warning about the beast from the East.

We were not prepared for it slapping at our faces with its cold fingers, freezing our bodies to the bone, stopping the traffic, shutting our schools and keeping us prisoners in our homes. As we waited by our fires for the thaw, the snow kept on plummeting.

I was watching the storm from my window.

The birds on the rooftops fled the snowdrifts in chaotic scatterings towards bare-branched trees. They flitted from one leafless home to another, flapping their wings, fluttering for their lives, trying to keep warm. When they returned to their roost they discovered their young had fallen from their nests, and found them lying buried under fresh snowfall.

Surely I would have heeded the weather warning if I knew that this beast from the East would trigger a memory of a March day from my childhood, when we were trapped inside the white-out surrounds of our farm.

I was watching the storm from my window.

My mother scraped a frantic path through the snow with red raw hands and brought the young lambs into the kitchen, one by one, to keep them warm.

Later, she wrapped her own newborn inside a blanket and took him outside to meet an ambulance that didn’t arrive.

I toddled down the path soon after, following her faded footsteps, and found her and my brother lying buried under fresh snowfall.

Julie Fairweather