Hedge in autumn

Hedge in autumn

The hedge was dense and green through summer,
and at the end hung with red and black,
luscious gemmed and fluttering with wings
when soft-voiced birds flit, feasting.

And at the end, hung with red and black,
the sumptuous banners of a forgotten king,
blackberried and spiked, autumn builds its ramparts,

luscious-gemmed and fluttering with wings.
Turning vines drape purple grapes in gold leaf,
hand-prints across the green of oak and elm.

When soft-voiced birds flit, feasting
on hips and haws and plump purple,
I know the winter king will soon be holding court.


Blackberries’ end

Blackberries’ end

And when the blackberries are all gone,
the stalks bare, bearing only thorns,
where will I go?

This late summer’s afternoon I move, quiet, slow,
plucking the ripe berries, hearing the rustle
of wings, the quiet chatter of blackbirds,
the plaintive call of the greenfinches.

There is no anguish here, no distress;
the hand rises, arcs in grace like birdwings ,
reaching into dogwood, parting the hawthorn,
picking black berries from thorny canes.

So quiet and slow I move, in the alders,
following the stream, squirrels leap unaware
from branch to branch;
a deer drifts beneath the oak tree.

I breathe like birds breathe with no sound,
feet scarce crackle the dry grass.

But when the blackberries are all gone,
where will I go to find such peace, to join with the birds,
fluttering with my unfledged wings,

when the east wind blows cold,
and my hands are full instead
of the ephemeral gold of fallen leaves?


For the dverse prompt. The first blackberries are ripe but it’s too hot to pick them yet.


Amid the tangled,

sharp-spined jungle

of winding, whip-snaked brambles,


razor wire

and the bright red welts of torn flesh

are the berries,

sloe-black and gleaming,

biggest, blackest

always out of reach,

where spiked tendrils arc—

hark, juice drips,

sweet as the warbler’s song.