Walking amidst failing leaves,
our faint shadows stretched,
we wait for autumn’s passing
and the lean months to come.
Here we have reached our limits,
carelessly redressing past hurts
to display triumphant wounds;
yet no bloodied flesh resolves
drab lives unwisely scattered
amongst the quiet lies we tell
without pardon. The gold leaves
still fall against the settling sun.
Your expected letter makes me consider
your long fingers, your insistence on ink;
a rich paper, you always took such trouble
over the trivial, time was never our problem.
How like you, nine pages to answer
my emailed question, surer perhaps;
though this thick paper will disintegrate,
you will have bought degradable or at least
paper made from sustainable forests;
but that’s hardly the point. What have
you said in all these words that after writing
you turned away from to file your nails?
All night I have struggled to find
the right music, thinking something
complex yet melodic appropriate
for this mood I wish to continue;
Chopin, or some deeper rapture,
Beethoven tried, but failed the test.
The voice was possible, spoilt
for choice I play Schubert, Schumann,
lieder, English songs, all wrong.
Somewhere there is a music
to swell this mood, a concord
to end an almost perfect day
and then it comes to me, I was right,
the piano, it carries me away, our lives
suddenly fulfilled by Charles Ives.
The Fell Sergeant
Flicking through these old files
finding evidence, photographs of you,
hotel receipts and travel snaps.
I wonder how we fitted in so much
all those urgent years ago, when youth
held us so splendid and so sure
we were life’s winners. Now alone
I question how it happened, when failure
entered and embraced the plan;
our stratagem to make life work
for us and lead the fell sergeant
from our exceptional estate.