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Donkin's World: Eviction

Bare all the branches, shutter the nuts and fruits,
Neuter the stamen, spay the pistil,
Leave not a twig unbent, a vein untapped...

Richard Donkin's redolent poem records the arrival of Father Autumn.

Father autumn dons his purple cloak,
And coughs a hesitant good night,
Banging his gnarled gavel, nailing season’s end.
Bare all the branches, shutter the nuts and fruits,
Neuter the stamen, spay the pistil,
Leave not a twig unbent, a vein untapped,
Or axil soaked in sap, or shoot unspent.
Lever the pine stylus from its groove,
Fading summer’s euphoric arboreal rave,
The bugs have lost their jitter, damsels weep,
And beetles split, diving their separate ways,
In hibernation or decomposing grave, or
Swearing fealty to adolescent queens.

The acer and the maple strut a final tango,
Smouldering terrene and drama at the death,
Yielding now to winter’s frozen breath,
Layering and misting field and forest,
Veiling valley, moor and mountain top,
In stillness and stormy raids, ridding,
Clinging, unrecorded casualties,
The tardy, drunken gatecrashers,
Barely dressed and scant prepared,
Put to the sword, a coup de grace,
With tendrils severed, roots clipped.

A government dethroned, unfrocked,
Turned out in hoar frost reception,
Bounced in to rutted paths, iron-viced,
Scattered pitiless, the broken, glabrous sheets,
Deltas emptied of vascular life,
Decaying, spent and brittle brown,
Littering lanes, unwanted, lost, quite dead.
Their hosts, exposed and quieted, hushed
For dark months of confinement,
Dimmed but not defeated,
Building confidence and strength,
Awaiting the bugle call of spring’s campaign.

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