It’s that time of year again. The time of year when, all around, trees show us how things should be done: how easy it is to cut all ties and shake off old habits; to get rid of everything that really isn’t needed, ready to start again afresh.
Sadly, we tend not to be as good at decluttering as our deciduous neighbours.
Although some cultures will make an extra effort to clean and tidy up just before New Year, while others focus on the annual spring clean, autumn, when the nights are beginning to draw in and the sunshine loses its strength, seems more a time for stocking up and hoarding, for holding fast to memories and reminiscing.
Even among the trees there are some that find letting go more difficult than others.
But, in general, they seem to celebrate their liberation from the burden of unnecessary leaves with one last glorious show of colour.
All too often, letting go for us is not so cheerful and we focus in such a way that our goodbyes are dark and drear.
But goodbyes are necessary and the past can be an encumbrance. So let’s draw a leaf-frond veil across the evening sky and end with a poem that recognises the need to let go, move on, and get back down to work.
“Where everyone who is marked for death dies”
On a semi-circular stage, draped round
with a grey cloth cyclorama, figures
come and go. Here, audience or no,
across the centuries, each night
a wilful child defies a conscientious king.
He must not regret the unburied bones
of heroes at the city gate; the bodies
in the cave; the playing out of roles. Scent
pinks the war-room fug: false perfume
of a paper nightclub flower. His rolled sleeves
show his muscles tense. He does not turn.
What do we fight for?
Dirt; the right to dig; the right to stop
them digging. A kitten mews and claws
his wife’s abandoned knitting. Now, the child
will never understand; she will never be old.
There is work to be done. The city settles
into melancholy peace.