A Change of Season

The season has changed, says Anna, and it has.

Grey skies, a biting wind. The day after bonfire night,

and all the fires are out. The garden has put on

its shabby overcoat against the cold, the one

with the loose threads and ragged holes in the sleeves,

and the blown leaves rattle with the sound of empty cans

kicked along the ground. We hunch under the shelter

around coffee and hot chocolate, as Tom saws a log,

Steve digs a hole for a pond, and Anna talks about

her life in Poland, and how love brought her

from there to here. And here, Steve has uncovered

the foundations for a wall that ran between houses once,

where Graham lived when he was a boy, and in the photos

that he shows me, those houses stand again, and people

look out into sunlit, momentary snaps, our eyes

meeting theirs through a long lens, ghosts in their world

as they are in ours. For even as we look at them

they change, they age and creep towards the earth,

that cradles them, crumbling, dust between our fingers,

dust on our lips and in our hair, and the child’s

summer carefree smile becomes the old man’s  

wintry gaze steadied into a future known, irrefutable,

and close, his hands upon his knees as fragile

as these leaves that skitter along the path

in a bitter, chilling wind. The trees are bare, the logs

stacked for future fires, the pond’s waiting to be filled

and a music beyond hearing hums beneath the ground.

We stir, and make a move. The season’s changing,

winter’s coming on. Dark morning, early nights,

and, with the luck, stars burning clear and bright.

Then the month will turn upon its moon

and children will sing in the garden.