I don’t know if it’s because one way and another I ended up spending a ridiculously long time in the academic system—schoolchild, student (several times!), lecturer, then student again—but to me autumn has always felt much more like the beginning of things than spring. The changes in light and landscape always wake in me a quiet excitement, a sense simultaneously of possibility and openings and yet also, with the longer evenings and nights, the opportunity for peace, retreat, renewal. That probably sounds paradoxical, I know. But it’s true. So that’s what this hymn to November is about.
November sends me a postcard
Across the wan November sky
a lone heron is ferrying
the slack bag of his body, slung
beneath the neat-tucked neck. Not high
nor hurriedly he goes, but slow,
under a dough of cloud thin-stretched
and risen over fields; he’s fetched
from here to there by something known
in arrow-beak, and steady wings,
and sinew. Wide, diffused, the light
slants like a skimmed stone, and the night
sits, ready, inside day. Air brings,
all leaf-rot-rich, the smell of rest:
though not yet fierce with coming cold
it’s promise-pricked, and says What’s old
may be surrendered, and what’s next
will come. Inside me, something yields
and drops its gold, like leaves released.
The far crows caw in bared, black trees,
and tupped sheep wait in ochre fields.
First published in The Blue Nib, 2019