On a dark, dank, dismal morning,
When the winter wind was blowing,
Dimly, a new day was dawning;
Outside it was sleeting, snowing.
In the house the fire burned brightly;
Little children played together.
Door and windows fastened tightly,
Keeping out the winter weather.
One girl wandered from the others
— though just why she wasn’t certain —
Left her sister and her brothers;
Crossed the room and raised the curtain.
In surprise the girl’s gaze lingered
On the window’s icy traces.
On the panes Jack Frost had fingered
Pictures of a thousand places.
Images in great profusion
Jostled for the girl’s attention,
Jumbled in a strange confusion
Begging tales of her invention:
Here a church and congregation;
There a fort to be invaded.
Lost in her imagination,
Sounds of siblings playing faded.
Fairy castles, watercourses,
Minarets with twisted towers,
Wicked witches, flying horses,
Frozen trees and crystal flowers.
As each one revealed its glory,
She was instantly transported
Through the lands of mist and story
Where an awesome dragon snorted.
Even as she concentrated
Warmth was building from the fire.
Driving snowstorms had abated
And the sun rose ever higher.
On the windows drops of water
Washed away the snow-topped mountains;
Minarets were growing shorter,
All becoming dripping fountains.
Icy panes were slowly clearing;
Walls of stately castles crumbling;
Magic landscapes disappearing;
Fairy grottoes crashing, tumbling.
One by one the pictures vanished;
Palaces were robbed of splendour;
Dragons, knights and witches banished,
Forced by water to surrender.
She could hear the children playing;
Suddenly the spell was broken.
What she’d seen she wasn’t saying;
Secret thoughts were left unspoken.
Just returned from far off places
To her brothers and her sister,
She could tell from all their faces
That they hadn’t even missed her!