At last the autumn takes its toll:
The gaudy flush of leaves are down,
And weary frauds of summer burst.
We’re left to face the coming cold.
The monotone of honest skies,
Is dampening out all thoughts of growth.
The facts of death are plain and fair,
With brittle bark, revealed and bare,
The bed is warm, the fire is old.
What better place to turn away,
To run the thoughts that autumn brings,
Of things that mattered but are gone.
If change were worth the while we’d change,
But now we know how all things end.
The bank beneath the shedding larch
Was studied gold with chanterelle.
A basket twice the size of this
Would hold a half the mushrooms in.
Above, a goldcrest flicked at webs,
Its call so high I’d miss it soon:
Too old to reach its pitch of life.
The needle fevered goldcrest picked.
A year of rain had swollen leaves.
A hawthorn hedge was rich with birds:
A chirm of finches, families grouped,
Were gorging through the glut of fruit.
The rites of gleaning, rites of growth,
With chants of birds and scent of earth.
We let these moments pass us by:
The simple gust, the breeze of dust.
As if the air were empty space,
A different and inhuman place.
Inhale like every other time:
That breath was once in Sappho’s lungs,
In fibres rolled in ancient scrolls,
And mixed with Dreamtime songs and chants.
And Lorca’s final, sand-filled gasp
Is falling now as Autumn rain.
And Rosa’s blood from Landwehr ditch,
Is in the beat of every heart.
We miss the air, as air flows by.
The drops of Lethe have filled our sighs.
The air is rich with death and gold,
And webs of broken silk and dew.
The whispered flick of ancient storms
Are ebbing through the stubble straws.
Throughout the night the fungus spread,
Their fruiting bodies seeping spores,
And ripen new in curious forms
Amongst the foetid mulch of leaves.
And out of sight a rotting bird
Lies molding, feathers matted thick.
Its skull and beak like twisted shoots
Have burst from earth and reach for skies.
The writhing mass of Autumn wrings,
The gasping first and last of things.
So who believes the sun and moon
Are spun as light and death combined,
Are melancholic twists of life,
Reflections cast and shadows shone?
And who can feel the planet’s pulse:
A universal burst and void,
A heart which beats as photon’s flow,
A home, a tomb, a silent space?
And who can see the distant spark:
One suffered, born and suffered on,
Through copper sunrise, opal dawn,
The spark which grew from star to speech?
Yet here in grass and flowers uncut,
I see the answer, smell belief.
The skies of ice have scoured the fields
And scarified the dormant Earth.
A flock of fieldfare crackle south
And scatter tales from Arctic wastes.
The planet tips the silver sun,
And pours the hungered hoars of god,
Forgotten herds and stranger’s words,
Ephemeral mists of tundra swans.
The settling stillness hangs as haze,
Too fine for sight, it taunts the light.
A winter pale, the merest veil,
Impossible the crystal threads.
Who now translates the polar songs?
The stars? The birds? The voiceless ones?
From rainbows seep the swamps of love,
The last of life’s exquisite pain.
The penetrating western wind
Ignites the Iris bows of light.
It shakes the leaves on alder trees,
Flits opalescent up the stream.
It licks putrescent bodies dry,
And sucks the droplets hope had left.
It sweeps the path through canyon depths,
Where night and luminescence clash.
It draws from springs the howls of storms,
And strews the walls with twice shed tears.
Beyond the canyon mountains rise.
Beyond the mountains: empty skies.
Each filament a shaft of light,
An interlocking burst of sun,
A fugue which twists and weaves through space,
A mass of radiated song.
The barbs are pointed beams of force,
Are concentrated shards of time.
The wing tips touch and spark with stars.
The secondaries flux and flow.
A planet’s mass should drag it down,
Should crush it to its heartless core:
Impossible the flick of flight,
Incredible the ruffled shake.
Beneath its roost the careworn miss
This miracle released from weight.