05 October 2017

Poetry Thursday - Plums by Gillian Clarke

The equinox has been and gone, and we're into the dark half of the year - it's autumn. My favourite season, with crisp days and vivid trees - somehow it feels like the beginning of a new year, is that because of all those years of "back to school" all those years ago, and the resumption of adult ed classes now? It feels like a time to set things to rights, to bed down the garden, to start a new bit of knitting. And seasonal food changes - goodbye to the nectarines that I have so enjoyed this year, cut into big chunks and topped with greek yogurt (full-fat of course). 

Still a few nectarines, before we get to the plums

Here then are some plums for autumn - not  William Carlos Williams' sweet and cold ones, which you may already know, but plums that are being caught as they fall from the tree, or else heard falling.


Gillian Clarke

When their time comes they fall
without wind, without rain.
They seep through the trees’ muslin
in a slow fermentation.
Daily the low sun warms them
in a late love that is sweeter
than summer. In bed at night
we hear heartbeat of fruitfall.
The secretive slugs crawl home
to the burst honeys, are found
in the morning mouth on mouth,
We spread patchwork counterpanes
for a clean catch. Baskets fill,
never before such harvest,
such a hunters’ moon burning
the hawthorns, drunk on syrups
that are richer by night
when spiders pitch
tents in the wet grass.
This morning the red sun
is opening like a rose
on our white wall, prints there
the fishbone shadow of a fern.
The early blackbirds fly
guilty from a dawn haul
of fallen fruit. We too
breakfast on sweetnesses.
Soon plum trees will be bone,
grown delicate with frost’s
formalities. Their black
angles will tear the snow.
From Gillian Clarke's Selected Poems
(Found here, where there are nine more delicious poems about autumn.)

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