November, this strange lantern

November brings no announcement

Just sudden dark as the clocks go back, a loss of light on the walk home from work.

‘I’m still recovering,’ she says. ‘Just can’t get myself going.’

And the sodden ground, watered and watered, then watered again, and grass that won’t dry, ‘Wet grass ‘til April now,’ says my neighbour.

We don’t talk long. It isn’t the weather, not for talking, the chill trees disrobed by the wind, rough and rude; carpets of tired leaves face down on the ground like convicts.

Though the birch keeps a few, little yellow diamonds, clinging in the gale; they have not long, but dance for now.

And up the hill, the bracken is done, bent and soggy brown, and unpicked blackberries withered on the stem, like dried skulls – oh, and the gutters! I try not to look. They’re a garden in themselves.

‘You must give the man a ring,’ she says. And I say I will – though he’ll be busy, I say. And she says, ‘We don’t want trouble like last year.’

She means the leaks. November, like a persistent search party, seeks out the homestead’s flaws, all hid and happy in summer’s sun. 

But no announcements, no fanfare; just the letting go of a season – this muddy bridge between October gold and December’s glittered strain.

Yes, we know what’s coming; of course, we know. We’ve seen the adverts; had family on the phone.

‘No space next month, matey!’ says the diary, all self-important and making sure it’s heard. ‘I’m as full as Greedy-Guts on a spree!’

But space today, my friend, as nature slows, a clearing appears of nothing very much, no announcements, this grey and gusty death, a strange lantern for my way.


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