Saturday, 20 February 2016

A Rowan Tree

In the grey mist of a September dawn,
   Chill with drizzle, a rowan tree,
Huddled like a watchman beneath its lamp
Of clustered berries, issued from the bourn  
Of night. Those berries, richly red and damp,
      Shone flatly as though black 
   Were cindered with their hot-coals glimmer; 
For not dull autumn with its rust and lack
But the rowan with leaves like Charon’s oars
Lights travellers to Lake Avernus’ shores,
   Its waters’ man-destroying simmer.

All that has meaning is earmarked by death; 
   Distracted men ignore this tree,
Its muted berry-brands aglow in dusk,
But comes a day a hand will snatch their breath, 
Then dusty-mouthed like a discarded husk,
      Possessions and endearments
   Become like leaf-fall, friable,
Charon will ferry them stripped of cerements
Across the lake to judgement, then to wander
In asphodels or Tartarus asunder, 
   Discarnate and unknowable.

© September 2013


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