~clears throat~ OK, I haven't shared any poetry I've written since I was 13, and I'm 36 now, so... well, I wrote this in October, and since everyone here is so sympathetic I'm emboldened to post it, I hope you like it. If it strikes a chord or even makes you put on a coat and go for a walk, or just look out of the window, so much the better. Apologies for my writing, when I wrote it I didn't think anyone would ever read it!
Pulling on an old coat
and sturdy boots,
I emerge into the mild Autumn air,
Breathe in, pause with the door at my back
and tilt my aching eyelids to the precious meagre yellow light.
I head at random out into the lanes, not caring where I go
So long as it leads away from curious eyes and my relentless crowding thoughts.
My booted tread sounds loud in the soft sudden realness of
Wet and tangled grass and apple smells.
Confusion trails behind me like a broken cobweb holding withered leaves
and dusty butterflies' wings, the memories of summers passed and gone,
Caught on the sticks of bare brown hedgerows, clinging strands unravelling as I
Stump along, hands in pockets.
What a sight, like an old country maid with gnarled hands
And shabby green coat stained with the smell of horses
And the hair of the dog, rheumy eyes, and cheeks and nose as rosy
As the Bramley windfalls rusting in the grass.
My cheeks aren't rosy now, I can recall
The ghost-white stranger who stared out at me from the mirror earlier,
Eyes full of age and questions - the tired reproachful spectre which made me flee the house
To grasp with both hands at real living earth and wood,
And warm myself in the comforting familiarity of a damp Autumnal day.
It doesn't matter what I look like, no-one's here to see,
No-one ever will be.
Except a blackbird, beautiful in orange and black,
Eyeing me suspiciously from his twig, then darting, scolding, to a farther tree.
I feel a tug of loss, and want to tell him
That I mean no harm, that he could be a kindred soul,
As small and vulnerable, trying to build his little life here on this same
Resignedly I walk on, aware of the squelch of mud and leaves beneath my feet,
The waft of woodsmoke and a distant engine's hum.
The detail of each leaf comes into focus now, the pink feathers of a robin's pincushion,
A rare and ragged time-key which transports me back
Before my world was broken, mended and broken again.
I gratefully bury my face in nature's apron, feel her pat my back
And I lean there until I've no more tears to cry.
And subtly, a change begins, slowly, like shoots below the ground.
What is real? Not the ghosts behind the glass,
Which hammer and rage, their voices muffled now, their weak forms faint
in the rich solidity of daylight.
Not the hopes and great loves which seem so all-encompassing, but pass
And fade away like showers and are gone, leaving only puddles which
reflect the changing sky. Too many years reaching for those skies, only to withdraw
With fingers bruised on nothing more then the cold grit of wet tarmac, all illusion gone.
What is real?
Only the wet and unkempt grass which has been there since I was a child,
The brambles which mark the seasons turning,
And the blackbird, who sings now from his tree, content to be
In the shaft of late golden sunlight which reaches in
On this unlooked-for fulcrum, this ordinary miracle of an Autumn day.