One leaf falls, black mote upon the breath of time. In melancholy’s dark dance it drifts and shifts. I lift my eyes and trace the eddies through its sinuous descent. From below all colour’s charred upon the dull furnace of the cloud-racked sky; beneath my feet autumn’s vibrant counterpane awaits.
I hold out a hand, adjust, step forward; hope consummated in the aerial flight.
Behind I sense the tower. Firmly rooted it soars, looming in scraperboard monochrome, jackdaw-crowned and cloud swaying, tipping me off kilter, reducing me to this. I place a hand upon the stone, trace a finger along the mortar line, and invite the infusion of time and place and wonder. What hands? I think, What rough caress shaped and set?
Above, bough and leaf speak the sea’s tongue, squalls counterpoint the sighing rush. Autumn’s siren song turns me again, as one leaf returns to earth. Emblazoned in ochre-red and glistening it rests, evading, un-captured.
The loss of a wish draws down like an anchor, and roots me in loam and turf. Boot toes darkened by yesterday’s rain. Spirits dulled in exquisite suffering. Self-pity a welcome mantle of the season, wrapped sensuously, enveloping.
Torn between living wood and dead stone I stand. One, testament to perpetual re-birth; one, raised in monumental death. And so I choose my path, and take death’s hand. Dark stone on skin. Dressed block upon soft palm. Soaring aspiration dwarfing searing doubt.
Then, with cries darker than the oak’s ancient heart they fly. Jackdaw black. Swirling amidst the new-stirred leaves. The tower draws my gaze upwards towards the rough-hewn blade that ploughs the clouds, and delivers its selfless gift.
I reach out my hand and catch her; sister to the one leaf falling. Dream’s fulfilment.
Make a wish.
Note: The beautiful painting, inspired by this piece, was commissioned and painted by Phil Cooper, December 2016.