They seem to be lasting for longer each year,
So long past September and into December –
For even in frost and in sleet, they appear –
Still shining in bloom on the thermal frontier.
And I have seen violets outlast their season,
And snowdrops and hellebores turning up early doors.
I wonder if climate change offers a reason ?,
For something is urging these flowers and trees on.
The branches are bare, but the apples still mellow –
We’ve bred them so hardy, it just makes them tardy.
Surprises of colour make strange bedding-fellows,
With the roses still red as the crocus bursts yellow.
Funny time, November,
With the Autumn clinging on –
Just like the leaves on still-green trees
That won’t accept that Summer’s gone.
But then, it does seem warmer
Than the Autumns of my memory:
Where are all the frosty mornings ?
Bare-stemmed annuals ? Biting draughts ?
Now the low-slung sun still shafts
And won’t set Winter free.
It feels like this might last forever,
And the freeze will never come.
I love this strange, uncertain weather,
When I should be grey and numb.
And yet…I know this fulsome Fall
Is from the carbon in the breeze –
The holly shouldn’t get to grow so tall,
Nor roses bloom so long.
We can’t afford Novembers quite so strong,
They even fool the trees.
Ordered by social convention into inaction,
I sit at my desk and abstain –
I keep my head down and stare at my pen till I hear
The murmur of morning again.
Like most, I start on my shutdown at ten-fifty-eight,
And end at eleven-oh-four,
To cover the randomly-synchronised watches of colleagues –
And never mind minding the store.
Across the room, someone is typing. (Is that still allowed ?)
Their rat-a-tat keystokes clatter.
A phone rings out the alarm, which nobody answers,
Till voicemail settles the matter.
I ought to be thinking, I know, of tommies and trenches,
Of birdsong, bombardements and screams –
Instead, I just notice this shuffle’ing silence-by-rote –
My thoughts are deserters, it seems.
The leaves are falling down again,
They do so ev’ry year
It doesn’t mean a thing to you and I.
The days are full of wind and rain,
But we are not, my dear –
It is eternal Spring for you and I.
If trees have lost their beauty,
Then I guess they felt the need,
But we are still perennial and pure.
And even if we’re fruity,
Well, we sure ain’t gone to seed –
We’re nothing like Autumnal, that’s for sure !
The leaves are falling down again,
The boughs bear only rooks,
Or else are torn and splintered by the storm.
The frost may star the windowpane,
The ice may sheet the brook,
But we’ll just snuggle closer, safe and warm
If days are getting shorter,
Then our nights are getting longer,
And the season’s chill is firmly kept outdoors.
I don’t see why we oughta
Be beholden – we are stronger
Than the puny pull of Autumn’s metaphores.
Throat-wort over here and five-tongue over there,
Clinging to the brickwork,
When other weeds won’t dare.
Any scrap of dirt will do,
Waiting till the bulbs are through –
And suddenly, they’re ev’rywhere,
Ready with their reddy-blue.
Butterflies this side, bumblebees the other,
Ferrying the love-notes,
Each bloom to its lover.
And then the scatter-seeds will blow,
And where they land, so there they grow,
As next Spring will uncover,
By sprouting mauve and indigo.
Throat-wort is an old name for campanula (aka bellflower, but I always think of bellflowers as larger and grander). Five-tongue is a literal translation of Pentaglottis, the genus name of green alaknet. The truth is, I needed two-syllable names for both of them.
“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”
Matthew, chapter 27, verses 51-53
And the very earth shook beneath us,
And the sky came dark and the veil of the temple was rent;
As the Son at last came to leave us,
So the tombs where slept the saints were breached as He went.
And there they sat, arisen yet still,
Since so long dead, they patiently waited
For a night and a day and a night until
On Sunday morn, they arrived belated. Zombies on the loose, they come !
Zombies in Jerusalum !
And yet not a word was spoken,
As He was interred by Joseph of Arimathea,
Of other tombs that were broken –
For surely he witnessed the quaking’s rough aftermath here ?
For there they sat, arisen yet still,
Awaiting the one who had yet to be buried;
So lay Him within the sepulchre’s chill
And roll up the stone, his soul long ferried. Zombies yet procrastinate, Zombies lurk and zombies wait.
And still not a word was spoken
By the Marys on Sunday making their way to His tomb,
As they passed all the saints newly woken,
As another earth-tremor gave sanction to auto-exhume.
No more they sat – unprisoned, unstill:
Now great was their stagg’ring and groaning as any;
As stumbling and jerking, they lurched down the hill
To Jerusalem, to the marvel of many. Zombies, rotten of complexion !
Zombies join the Resurrection !
And never more a word was spoken
By the Twelve at the Pentecost, only a few weeks on –
When their voices were no longer choken,
But gabbled in tongues – yet not asking where the dead had all gone.
Where now they sat ? Or risen they still ?
Where went their mission, so silent of news ?
What is the purpose they mean to fulfil ?
Is this what is meant by Wandering Jews ? Zombies, born again through Christ !
Zombies, torn from Paradise !
And still not a word is spoken,
And the puzzling verse is never read out in church.
No statue or stained-glass token
Celebrate animate saints as they stumble and lurch.
And those who are sat in the pews quite still
And pretend that the verse is a metaphor or test –
I guess they haven’t the need or the will
To admit to themselves that it might be a jest. Zombies, clinging to their mask,
Zombies, too afraid to ask.