Thursday, 24 September 2015

Auguries of Autumn


Beech leaves: copper-coloured
Sycamore leaves: black-spotted; curling edges
Ash keys: hundreds; hanging heavy
Elder leaves: yellow - limp and lifeless
Elderberries: glistening - dark and luxurious
Blackberries: finger-staining
Spindle berries: shocking (pink)
Sloes: gin
Apples (in the orchard): wind-fallen
Apples (in the shops): English
Hazelnuts: rattling in their shells
Haws: full-blooded red
Conkers: strung
Swallow: solitary
Swifts: gone
Grasses: gone to seed
Ivy: flowering
Mushrooms: mushrooming
Cobwebs: visible in morning moisture
September: sunny
Evenings: chilly
Fields: empty; stubble-strewn
River: swelling

Monday, 14 September 2015

Autumn Falling

I felt the first falling
Of autumn this morning.
The air's still mild,
But the wind's become wild
And capricious - stirring the trees
Into roaring seas;
Overwhelming waves of foliage.

The edges of sycamore leaves
Are fringed with mellow yellow rust;
Haws, like drops of spilt blood,
Have reached their deepest wounded red;
And sloes have matured to the colour of old bruises.
Spindle berries, shockingly pink,
Look lurid and licentious in the mild-mannered hedgerow -
Waiting to reveal their outrageous orange innards.

One solitary swallow, now,
Skims low over the grassland -
Trying to unmake a summer?
Late-leaver, last-chancer,
Looking lost in the vacant pasture,
Whilst an empty white bucket
Rolls around the field in circles
Like a plastic sheepdog
Without a flock
Driven by the incessant whistling of its master –
The wind.

I shelter by the broken stones of an old barn:
There amongst the rural ruins
Is the perfect place
To imagine summer slowly seeping away
And listen to the blowing-in of autumn.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The World Tree

Imagine a tree…
… a tall and shapely tree, green and graceful, with deeply delving roots, strong, sturdy trunk of fissured bark and bending branches spreading high and wide into the sky, crowned with green, lanceolate leaves. It’s an ash tree. But this ash is bigger than any other.

The tree is called Yggdrasil – the world tree, the axis of the earth, the framework of creation. In the upper branches of the tree, light and airy, is Asgard - the dwelling place of the gods: wise Odin, mighty Thor, beautiful Freya, and dangerous Loki. The lower branches and the trunk of the tree holds Middle-Earth - the dwelling place of men and women, birds and beasts. And amongst the thick roots of the tree, deep, dark and dank, is the underworld – the land of the dead.

Tripping neatly amongst the leafy canopy of the tree, feeding on its foliage, is a herd of hairy goats; nimbling along branches and nibbling on leaves. Their udders swell with sweet sustaining nectar, which the gods of Asgard drink daily, keeping themselves vital and virile. At the tip top of the tree, is a great eagle with curved beak and talons tightly clenched. Whilst down below at the base of the tree, is a great grey dragon, with scales of steel, tail coiled around its trunk. And in between is a scampering, scurrilous squirrel – leaping and bounding from branch to branch, spreading salacious slander and malicious gossip between the lofty eagle and the grounded dragon, until those two great creatures are whipped up into a frenzy of fury. The giant eagles beats its wide wings, tearing at the tree’s branches; the great dragon gnashes and gnaws its jaws, biting the tree’s roots. And so each day Yggdrasil, the World Tree, is ravaged and ripped, almost pulled apart. 

Until, at night, with gentle moonlight filtering through broken branches, then there comes three old crones, the three Norns, who between them weave the fabric of fate. They bring cool, clear water, from the well of life, which they pour onto the injured roots of the tree. And so Yggdrasil, the great ash, is refreshed, and replenished and renewed. And so our world continues…