Foggy horror snow

The white goddess whispers
and the fog obeys,
stripping birds’ bright raiment,
clad in bone and frost,
flying with ghosts.

On the second day of the big fog, I went outside only to feed the birds. Beneath my feet the white-furred grass crunched, and fingers of fog ran through my hair, its voice muttered in my ears.
Body heat fled, and the voice became my pulse, my pounding heart. Fingers numbed and I retreated indoors.
Birds fluttered close to the windows, pecking at the scattered seeds but more insistently around the window frames, as if looking for a way inside. They fluttered silently, voices, like their bright colours, leached away. Tapping.
Fog clung to the frosted grass blades, frost flakes filled the foggy air, clumping thicker until even the tall trees were too faint to see. At evening, the birds left, sucked into the fog, and night fell on perfect stillness.
On the third day we left the shutters closed, intimidated by the ghost-grey that pressed against the glass, where condensation trickled like tears, afraid to see faces in it. If the birds had returned, we heard no insect-tapping on the wood. Instead, we heard the cracking of ice.

The night is deep now, perhaps dark, but I suspect it will be grey, thick like city river water. There will be no sky no stars, no frost shimmer on the meadow, no moonlight. Only fog, grey, dirty, pale, like winding sheets unwound from ancient graves.
It presses against the shutters, the roof, and we hear it sigh. The tapping begins again, and it is not birds.

Fly before the wind, birds,
before winter jaws snap closed,
before the marrow freezes
and the song dies—
find the sun.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

26 thoughts on “Foggy horror snow”

    1. So do I! It’s not really frightening, just unsettling. The weather forecast insists that we’re having bright sunshine here which is very strange since we’ve had nothing but thick freezing fog for the last 48 hours. The tapping is normal though. There’s always something rummaging about upstairs 🙂

      1. Your poem made me imagine people trapped in this liminal space like a sci-fi story/nightmare. But I would not like constant tapping! 😀 (Did I ever tell you that my brother casually mentioned that he’s awakened every single night by some mysterious tapping in his house?)

      2. Those stories scare me. No matter how often I see the same plot.
        No, you didn’t mention that. If your brother’s house has wooden beams it could be beetles. It’s not the right time of year for woodworms to make a noise, but it might be for capricornes. Otherwise, he might have a woodpecker infestation 🙂

      3. Yes, they scare me, too.
        No, I think it’s a ghost. It’s every night since he first moved in, and if he gets up to investigate, it stops. And he can’t tell quite where it’s coming from, but the neighbors with a connecting wall don’t hear it. . .

  1. Please, Jane, buy a few bird feeders, don’t just scatter a few seeds on the ground. I don’t know how big is the garden or the space outside but a few fast-growing conifers would provide a shelter for the birds. We own them care.


    1. The story’s fiction 🙂 We don’t have a garden, just five acres of meadow with trees on it. We have two bird feeders and hang fat balls in the trees. I also scatter seed on the ground for the birds that are frightened of the feeder. It’s countryside here and the birds are generally terrified of people.

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