A Late October Day

This earth, that from the sun averts its gaze,
As if to say, “You have forsaken me,”
Gathers to its darkened face a sombre light
Of greys laid stark behind bare branches black.

Hollow caw the crows o’er cracked-brown fields,
No longer trod by ploughman’s laboured team,
Long gone its tinkling tack and wake of gulls,
As silent now as was its coulter’s scythe.

Beyond, upon a hill not far away,
Beneath a plait of smoke in heaven’s draw,
A glint of light lets stray a lamp’s allure
To lead my feet in search of heart’s desire.

Pale lichens hang from hawthorn, ash and oak,
As spectres lent the corners of my eyes
Where dark tales as told a child do lie,
Enough for hand to gather coat yet close.

Over stile, beside a brook, on I bear
As gurgling fall of water here tempts I
To wanton wishes of a kettle’s brew,
Its warmth to paint pale pallor from my lips.

Now steep the gutted lane that lifts my tread
Toward the trees that round the stark house stand,
Of gate and path beyond that beckon on,
Nearer still black boards of door’s home welcoming.

Gay wrapped the gift I now draw from my bag
And proudly bear before me to your smile,
Beam aglow, as gold upon a sunlit day,
That from your eyes spills in to fill my heart.

Now bright, and no less dimmed by years gone by,
My love has stayed as true as time itself,
Its own bouquet of heady scents bestows
A celebration of rare beauty’s birth.

branches

Clive S Johnson

Poet for August

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