beginnings and endings

dry stalks of cow parsley after seeding

The long hot summer is forgotten, the grass is green and straggly again and there is a distinctly autumnal nip in the air.

The horse chestnuts seem to have really suffered from the drought – rather than turning colour with the season, their leaves are all shrivelled and mottled – and I’ve hardly seen any conkers, though there are at least some sweet chestnuts.

There’s also more beech mast than I thought possible, and a fair number of acorns, too, so hopefully the squirrels should have a reasonable chance of surviving the winter.

In general, although there are plenty of fruits, nuts and berries as well as sprays of orange and russet leaves, the the trees don’t seem to have decided that its time to turn yet. Indeed, some of them seem to be very much in two minds about it.

trees at the start of autumn

But most of the flowers are long gone. The willow herb is as twisted and confused as it always is at this time of year after its long seed pods have sprung open to let loose the downy fluff of autumn clouds.

rosebay willow herb seeded stalks

Early autumn is always a slightly melancholy time, bringing with it colder, darker days and longer nights. So here are a couple of melancholy poems from the archives. Firstly, one that is very clearly about endings.

On Breaking Up
“Las manos son torpes en la ruptura” – M.K.

Once-nimble fingers
fumble; hands
become clumsy,
senses blunted.

I used to know
the where and how;
now
I stumble;
my tongue trips
on familiar phrases;
sweet words cloy
and leave
a bitter aftertaste.

I think this second piece is slightly less negative, even if it is definitely autumnal and the narrator is wistful and longing for the past.

What Have I Got in my Pocket?

Paper and pen for making notes
of people, thoughts and random quotes
– things seen and heard around the town;
a conker, smooth, mahogany brown,
picked up while walking in the park,
now lying snugly in the dark
beside a card with a friend’s address on
and scribbled notes for my next lesson;
Swiss army knife; a mobile phone –
for breakdowns when I’m on my own;
a hanky edged with handmade lace;
no glasses, just an empty case;
a wooden key fob and bunch of keys;
a hole, through which slip memories.

When I wrote it, many years ago, I’m fairly sure I was trying to show the narrator holding on to talismans and charms to comfort her and to help her cope through the coming winter.

After all, all the fruits and nuts and berries of autumn carry the promise and potential of new beginnings.

Pride of India tree - seed pods - early autumn

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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