Thoughts of Autumn – a poem

Late summer sun, slow change in hues

of leaves whose days are nearly done, dues

paid for the year, so they may either linger on,

through autumn’s shifts, or drop tomorrow,

an early gift to the earth below, and all the things about to grow

in gardens, fields and water meadows.


There is simple beauty in the lives of leaves

arriving with the skyward rise of warming sap,

a bud forced through a tiny gap, then to

spread a solar cloth to catch the light and

send it back to feed the tree and so, each anniversary,

augment the leaf community.


A year is short but look outside each day: it’s

lengthened by the grand display of colour that will

wet your eyes. Yet you may be taken by surprise

if buds appear much earlier than they did last year;

or if winter, too soon woken, sighs its cold commands

and roughly scatters younger lives.


Today is calm, leaves barely move, hard to believe this

slow embrace and lightfoot waltz will gather pace and

leave the dancers, no more face to face, but

whirled this way and that by winds that weaken

limbs and all the ties attaching to the tree.

How could this arboreal harmony be rent apart

in so few blows? Is there a price to pay for

paradise? Can more be said, not just supposed?


As the hands of clocks complete their rounds more

quickly, as the last ticks and tocks of day loom large,

as the night marks the finite and the way full followed,

so the last notes of evening birdsong, and the red pink

slide of the sun’s descent and final dip behind the turning

Earth, make it worth its own end; and, in a sense, the

end is in the start, or such a large part of it that it profit

little to stop the whittling down of day.


And this whittling down may be meet, as metaphors go,

for poignancy requires a good point, after all – and a

sharp one at that – for the point does need to pierce the skin,

to let run out all that lies within, that hides inside. Then

we can be fine leaves, for our time, while light remains, and

teach delight in colours fading into night.


© Peter Taylor 2014


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