Autumn Leaves: a preview

As schools reopen in my part of the world, I have had the strange, disorientating experience of returning to work yet nothing being the same. But beside my office in the school library are some gorgeous auburn leaves that soothe me whenever I pass them. So I’m sharing them here with you today, along with a snippet from one of the poems in my new book, Les Feuilles Mortes, which is a kind of prayer for all of us as we imagine life on the other side of Corona.

And do not say, When
all this is done. Think bigger
than the mere return
of leaves to trees. Think seasons
not yet imagined, transformed.

(From “Autumn Leaves: Tanka for Isolation”

Les Feuilles Mortes is available for digital download here. Tune in to the online book launch on Saturday 30th May at 8:30pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Winter came

            unnoticed; we
thought it had arrived.
            The subtle lull
                        of autumn tricked us
            with its need for cardigans
                        and leaves aesthetically arranged
                                    on garden floors and streets.
We thought the worst had come,
                        how true cold feels
            on toes.
                       And now:
            the need for scarves
                        in bags (in case)
            and duffle coats;
the huddled walk
            of chilling feet
                        and all the proud offense of those
            who do not know the cold.
Father hands:
            please keep us warm.
The winter does not sit with us.
                        And strengthen mumbling
            grumbling minds
                        to take the worst
            that comes.

Les Feuilles Mortes

Philippe Robert, "Feuilles d'automne"
Philippe Robert, “Feuilles d’automne”

Yes, the leaves die as they go golden,
this does not speak to me of death,
as hand-in-hand we walk below bowers
          which colour
     the world’s bright defiant grave.
Tombs carry promise, still dormant – a longing –
hidden by these shrouds of weak foresight –
then, like colour transfigured in a shower of gold,
          soon to sing,
     “Death, where’s your victory? Your sting?”

Autumn Soul

Poor leaves -
gold before the sun is gone,
your brothers green,
fallen now before your time,
the street lined thick with your mistake -
leaves, lie still and wait.

Last week summer ruled the street;
spring creeps in, winter retreats.
We mourned the heat, we dreamt the dreams
that drove the leaves down to the ground.
Autumn soul, poor autumn soul,
let the seasons pass you by
and rest a while in grace.