Beset by Autumn
And we have been so beset this year
By autumn. Not the usual meander
Out of the long weeks of summer
Breathless with the high humidity and heat
Into something other, but a sudden
Violent assault, strong winds, heavy rain,
A mugging of brains led to expect
The customary by a first faint scent of
Orange like something half-remembered
Come from nowhere to tease the senses,
Breeze-borne from the three great
Bushes in the little park we overlook,
And then a hint of colour, orange stars
Among the green and waxy foliage
Of the kinmokusei – 金木犀 – Osmanthus
Fragrens – clear whispers of the change
Of season, clear as the distant recorded
Call of the baked sweet potato men
Kerb-crawling the district, ovens
Ablaze in the back of their little trucks,
The nasal taint of woodsmoke, and,
As pungent to the ear, Yaki-imo, Yaki-imo,
Yaki-imooo that sings of October days,
A tolerable warmth, the pleasantness
Of crickets in the dark. Idyllic really
After such a heat-distracted time
With restless nights too hot
For sheets, pillows sweat-soaked.
Those orange flowers fattened.
Weighting the air with odour.
For the first time in months we
Possessed a sense of being well.
Then we became our own Shipping
Forecast; gales, drenching rain
That fell in straight black lines.
This morning, woken from another
Night of storm, and opening the blinds
To see the vandals gone, the wrecking
Done, over the puddles I find a cloak
Spread as if for a queen to step on
The blossoms richly driven down
To the marshy ground, and our
Sense of despondency made anew,
A promise given but never kept.
Little corpses waiting to be swept
Up by the new broom of
Renewed disaster. All this
And winter yet to come.
by Clive Collins
Editor’s Note: Intense and detailed imagery provides the bones upon which this poem’s emotional narrative finds a place to live.