Fragment of a last memory.

When I shook his hand
On that long, cold September evening,
The shadows tall and cool, the
Apples low and red.
I heard him, every word he said
Over and over,
"It's time we cut that beech tree out;
Cleared the light, made it safe for winter."

Rarely did I shake him by the hand,
Rarely did I feel that agricultural skin
He'd spent his life abusing.
But that evening when we parted
I had no choice, and as we made
Our farewells he gripped my hand
In both of his and warmed me.

I get depressed in autumn.
The leaves are brown and falling.
The dew is heavier, the hours are changing
And nights are drawing in.
That evening, going home
Blowing summer dust out from heating vents
And shutting the windows to the draught
And driving slowly through the growing gloom
I heard him say again those words
And felt him shake my hand.

"We'll leave it 'till the sap is frozen."
I heard him say again.

After the sap had frozen in his veins.
After the snows had melted away and gone.
After the fires and pyromaniac prayers.
After a winter of a widows tears
I watched that beech tree grow green
Again and laugh at all our folly.

The fragments, torn and thin, are
Blurred by the vagueries of time.
Edges frayed, chronology warped
I knit my brow and hope to
Catch the rest.
Somewhere in this mind of mine
There lurks the exact magic of his words.
A mirror of that evening chat.
The warmth of his rare handshake.

©Crocodile Productions - 1982