There’s a happening in the grocery.
The old man, the old weed-picker, in his famous coat
of torn crows is walking the sentry fridge from its box;
he’s lost something precious and attendant shoppers
are keen to lend hands.
He hums low and crackles something about a note he wrote
to his son late last summer and how they agreed
he’d pin it to an oak in the corn on Crow Castle Hill.
The grocer, in his famous apron of albino pelts,
helps extract the fridge from its socket -
the old man stands quiet looking at the grave-dirt
of a thousand strangers’ shoes;
the vault-feathers of a hundred lost night-birds
and a single likeness of a hare in the dust
finger-drawn by last years’ child.
But no note.
Not one jotted word or single explanatory symbol.
Not even the vaguest, yellowing paper-diagraph.
No conjurer’s sun-spell. No season’s inner helix.
No curling schematic of four quarters’ workings.
No flaky topology.
Not even discarded, trickish poppets of the wood lady,
ticker tapes of riddles in their mouths.
The weed-picker breathes deep and long
and sinks a little lower in his collar of crows.
And in the presence of the absence of such give-aways,
the attendant shoppers exchange black, quizzical glances.
And given the circumstance, we might ask, what else were they to do?
Winter is setting in.
And such a winter will be full of dark.
And that dark will be full of song.
And such a man as our weed-picker is full of such winters.
And winters, as is known here, are teeming with lost things.
So the end of autumn is turning in; an entire season emptied
into the sump-dark of dispensed-with hours
where time moves by fractions, shifting imperceptibly
like plates and continents;
no longer a burgeoning vessel trailing wakes of change
but an endless paralysis of thought, a petrification of memory,
the keeper of stasis
into which the electric silhouettes of remembered things
sink, dim, switch out under the cowls of distance.
The weed-picker clouds over, thanks them all
and trundles into the dead orange light
where the wind descends the hills
carrying the words of a boy it blows right through;
how he’s wandering in a time of nothing and nowhere,
haunting the new season;
hunting the fields for instruction
in how to enter the unknown and older and wind-fearing land.
And there are others navigating this yard of elsewhere;
this dislodged place, corridor between seasons; the year’s fracture.
So the autumn has lost its head.
With which the winter laughs into the stretching dark.
In which the weed-picker picks up on the scent of a song.