Two men in the churchyard
Give the dead a haircut,
Clearing out the tired straws
And dusty greens of summer.
Toadflax wanders on walls,
Unsure what to do next
Now that winter is going to shake its fist.
The beech trees have rusted like tin,
And the skinned boles of the elms
Point at the cucumber slice of the morning moon.
It is coming, it is coming,Through all this dusty waiting –
The shriek out of darkness of winter,
The long slog through snow,
The hard crunch of ice underfoot,
And the wind, rasping from the sides of houses,
Polishing its collection of frost.
I remember last yearThe first fall of snow, innocuous under lamplight.
I rushed home in the dark
As the wind shook dusters in my face.
When I got in I was larded with snow,
Finger-deep like a well-whipped pie-filling.
It was minutes before I discovered my feet
Still there in front of the fire...
Autumn-time and winter-time,And the moment of the first damp shoot above ground –
I am in love with them all.
===============© August 1984