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