Kenneth Steven

A Winter Poem

On a nothing kind of day in July
I left the grey skies and grey rain
went into the padded silence of the library
in search of an old story.

I sat at a machine and flickered the screen,
sifted and sifted until I chanced on something –
like finding a flint arrowhead
unearthed beneath my feet.

I was taken back to Greenland and the time of Eric
the Red:
how the settlement prospered until it was three thousand
strong.
They built a cathedral of red sandstone, a symbol of
themselves.
But bit by bit they faltered: they failed to trade with
the Inuit,
and the soil was grazed too hard. The ships from Norway
dwindled,
disappeared. In the end they must have starved, slowly,
as the ice built its walls about their dying.

The last man was found, face down on a beach,
his blunt and broken knife beside him.

I finished and the computer eye blinked shut.
I went back out into the ice and snow;
the blizzard blinding my day.

Kenneth Steven is the son of writing parents. He grew up in Highland Perthshire in the heart of Scotland, and now lives in Argyll on the country’s west coast; it’s these landscapes that have inspired the lion’s share of both his poetry and prose.
At the age of 17 Kenneth won a place to one of Norway’s Folk High Schools: over the year he studied there he not only became fluent in the language but also passionate about the country.