Image for An autumn evening. A song at first light. The Leavings. The Conquest

An autumn evening

As autumn days close,
and breezy tones appear,
leaves inherit the season,
and seek refuge on the ground.

Night arrives in the mouth
of a dying sun;
a blanket of embers unfolds -
night’s gentle promises,

Abiding in the great expanse,
sorrows never intrude,
missing unheard harmonies
drifting, lovely, in the air,
and cinders in an autumn evening,
are a home for us to share. 

A song at first light

We walked the same line, you and I,
the golden shore, the dusty track,
the bush ruts – we never looked back,
with our footfalls in flawless time. 

It seemed like suddenly you said, “I’ll go on ahead”,
a whispered rule, so I’ll rove on
and see you there, when the day is long,
and where the shadows overhang. 

Now and then I catch sight of you
turning the corner, cresting the rise,
but I get to wondering “should I trust my eyes
in the midday waving heat?” 

I yearn to bleach my boots clean, pondering all the while,
if first light is last light in the dawn bird’s song,
whether the last night that travels ever on
to the other republic, is mocked in the feathered hymn. 

The day grows hot and I curse at you,
for leaving me here on this blistered land,
where I falter on and fight to stand,
and trace faded footprints along the way. 

And when I’m following the footprints in my memory,
I fathom it –
not an ending, not a beginning, but a going on,
you are gone ahead, always ahead,
to show the way.

It isn’t scorn in the air,
nor the purest delight,
it’s just first light will be last light will be first light,
in the dawn bird’s song,
and you and I, the travellers, walking the same line, ever on.

The Leavings

Our pacing days galloping in to years
turn now, and now our memories yellow,
break photo frames and scratch clean surfaces.
What will become of the leavings?

Years turning generations,
Christmas decorations are sooner erected
and sooner taken down,
tinsel dusted in the autumn cleaning.

Leaving in our wake –
weight loss obsessions, shiny collectables,
careers endured with holidays on the coast,
and life under the regime of the heart.

Lovers, teeth and birthdays recede,
and all that is left is Christmas tinsel
raining down somewhere,
as the leavings take flight.

The Conquest

We didn’t know when the conquest had begun,
the horsemen rode in and laid waste your cells
before defences were raised and weapons could
leap to hand; the generals were sitting in the sun. 

There was no lull, no armistice.
Just the steady march forward in ranks
of thousands, the indomitable army
with ears deaf to calls for justice. 

The matchless marauders with dead eyes
of cold fish, blind to hope, riding down dreams,
torching the parchment of your history
and blazing news for which we are not yet wise. 

The generals consult and their thoughts relate,
that resistance is useless, save the shells,
the artillery, the troops for another day.
The horses stay tethered, for another fate. 

We were damned to watch the battle,
prisoners of war, eyes turned to the slaughter,
flayed raw skin and blood from our hides
and the brand pushed in reminding us, we’re cattle. 

A single voice cries out over the balustrade,
it is over run, you are fallen,
the cause is lost,
plans will have to be un-made.

A long shadow falls across the land,
deepening pools of water. 
With arms around each other,
legs like new-born calves, we try to stand.

All is quiet from the victorious, no revelry.
In the near night, we scrabble for scraps
and try to fan the embers in our hearts.
All alone, in the prison of our reverie.