Piled up against the garden gate
These leaves know nothing of their fate,
Bright scarlet, cream or golden-eyed,
They neither ken nor care they’ve died.
And of the seven months they grew
No bud, no vein, no leaflet knew
The wonders of their chemistry,
Nor preached their secret ministry —
To cleanse, to stem as shield and crutch,
Would that Men could claim as much,
Now I shall rake these ash and oak
And poplar leaves to holy smoke.
If one must bear the imminent knowledge of one’s own death (and I suspect few would lightly choose that option), then autumn is the time to learn. All around in the English countryside the annual circle of life and death is at its most brazen as leaves litter the ground, seeds set and grasses, weeds and pond algae wither. Dead winter is in prospect. Will one be able to make it through the long huddled nights into a burgeoning spring? Will one ever see leaves back on the broadleaf trees, house martins scooping up mud for their nests, or hear the gardeners complaining again that it’s time to recondition the mowers? It would be nice to think so, but only time and the daemon on my left shoulder can know for certain. And as time is neither sentient nor self-aware and the daemon a long-standing figment of my imagination... ah well: ‘In nature there are no rewards or punishments; only consequences.’