I Sunrise is the best; the hot pink hues Illumine crispy autumn mornings. The frost coats swathes of garden grass In rough hewn patches of fast fading white. My wispy grey-white beard still fails To cover where the surgically stretched scar Crosses my throat. Autumn’s warnings.
II Today the rampant hedgerows Protecting little birds through summertime Succumb to coughing, rasping trim While I have strength sufficient still to prune. Hungry sparrows soon consume Fat balls and suet cake in refilled Wild bird feeders dangling Off the telephone pole. It’s autumn Outside our kitchen window.
III Tomorrow willow whips will fall As secateurs bite sharply through tough bark. Autumn planting in the boggy bit; pale Cylinders translucent and stout bamboo stakes May keep them safe from grazing predators. Bright rose hips catch the eye like rubies Strewn across a lawn in sparkling dew A bank of treasure offered up for winter.
IV No conflagration of the season Like Guy Fawkes fires, yearly planned, Is scheduled in this autumn of our lives. And nor can we prepare ourselves for a Michael Fish storm shaking all the apples down That isn’t meant to be. Honking geese sweep by southwards Exclaiming as they chase their next Adventure. The Grey Lags may yet stop Off in our field to rest a quiet afternoon.
V A pleasant task still haunts my autumn thoughts: What shall I diarise today, having written Already ten months of fond musings? Reflecting that we falter too, together, Running out of time and clinging tight. Stubborn tomatoes that won’t be ripe Before they freeze. But meanwhile, life! Slowly, steadily, the hot tub Temperature rises in the cold enclosing dusk Until the smells of softwood smoke Entice a soak beneath the stark Star-spattered sky. Constellations far above our heads while The station twirls in space and other Satellites and planets twinkle like Family, beneath a shining Milky Way.
VI The rites of one year’s passage in a village life; To be noted and notated. First snow on Killhope. Cobbles sorted out in Allendale Town square. The butcher shop is closed again, another Pub has shut for good. Spirits oddly high. It’s been, still is, a huge, climactic year. And too Sometimes a friendly comment, a point of view Will penetrate the autumn’s mists and fogs Of endless entries on this public road of days
And I will smile.
VII Getting on for seventy —Oh man! That I had treasured The many leaves of spring Emerging like green jewels after rising sap As I value the last two russet wisps Clinging on to autumn’s red bare branches. Going, not yet gone.