The cherry’s leaves are gilded now, arranged
fan-like on the lawn, by that perennial
alchemy – no intellect invented –
that turns skyward green leaves to falling gold.

Before the season was named ‘the Autumn’,
it was ‘the Harvest’ and then ‘the Fall’.
The Pilgrims took the last across the sea –
where, from bosky Maine to tinder-dry
Arizona, its melancholy sounds.

A male blackbird with its bright yellow beak,
foraging, flicks the leaves hither and
thither as if they were fools’ gold – humans
being humans,



‘I’ve been away,’ she said, as we sipped our wine
at the Philosophy Department’s graduation party.
‘I’ve been ill but I’m better now. I’ll do a masters
on the teleology of the ampersand.’
I nodded. We were both acolytes
of linguistic analysis.
‘Do you know the wild flower,
Rosebay Willow Herb?’
I nodded again, a memory suddenly shaken.
‘The night I was born German bombs
planted its seeds in my brain.’

Next door to my first school was a field full of Fireweed,
in the ruins of a synagogue razed by a Flying Bomb.



…and, with the film-maker, he returns
to where he sang, as a boy, in a boat;
a prisoner, an orphan, a Jew dumping sacks of crushed bone in the river;
keeping the Germans entertained with the
Prussian marching songs they had taught him –
and the Poles so charmed that, now he has returned
in middle age, they reminisce fulsomely:
bemused, he turns to camera in such pain…






The sun was sharp as she entered the lane.
She found a point where enough of the wall
had tumbled – through neglect or misuse –
for her to climb the rough, sandstone blocks with ease.
She was in a forest of rhododendron,
dark leaves a foil to extravagant flowers –
rich, vivid reds, pinks, purples, lilacs, whites,
an exotic palette, almost sensual.
Though the sun was distilled, the air was humid.
She thought of what little she had left.

The silence was dense. What insects there were
were soundless.



After the usual, civil formalities are finished
and the formal photographer has gone,
you begin to photograph people not poses;
charming, as you mingle; capturing, like a magus,
the very spirit of each and every guest.

In fifty years, we have been seldom apart.
When we are you are my very limb
and life. I was alone in Illinois,
driving, by the side of the Mississippi,
on the Great River Road, south to St. Louis –
thinking of you every lonely yard of the way.

Marriage, love,