David William Paley
From far within the forest depths,
Through branches, almost bare,
That scrape the autumn skies,
One sees the scudding clouds
Sail home to welcome crowds.
A deep, soft carpet of bygone years
Adorns the tree lined aisle
In that obscure cathedral nave
Where breezes sigh like distant choirs
Praising day with wordless lyres.
A parliament of clattering rooks
Takes flight and wheels about
Without a purpose in display.
They adjourn to treetops,
That etch the driving sky,
And settle for a moment
Until another shrieking cry.
For, apart, in muted stillness,
With eyes downcast and hands unclasped,
A couple pass the path side trees
Troubled by imagined wrongs
And injured pride at slights perceived.
Some rift has intervened
To mar their joyful day
And, thus, they walk with racing thoughts
Seething at the dreadful deed
And the guilt that neither will concede.
The rooks then raise a clamour
As they circle once again
As argumentative as ever
And as inconclusive as before;
Unless it be they watch the pair
Walking onward bent with care,
Although, no doubt, indifferent
To their reason for despair.
But, those last of dying leaves
Now shake upon the branch
And gently loose their grip
To swoop and turn about
And fall in graceful lines
Like dancers in the air
As they join with friends
And part for life elsewhere.
Wafting lightly in their play,
Clad in reds and browns,
They glide and swirl and pirouette
And hop along the woodland ride,
As if to bid the passing two
To join their broken thread
Whilst the strain of violins
Is softly moaning overhead.
The music strikes a louder note
As the lovers reach the forest edge
And see their world spread out below
Where eyes must feast on life aglow;
For, light has thrust the clouds aside
To shine upon the pastured fields
That wash like waves upon the sea
Where rippling shades seek harbour quay.
The last of leaves needs must depart
To worlds unknown beyond the stars.
They slowly roll across the path
As if to bid a fond goodbye
To that abode from which they fly.
They brush against the silent two
Then spring away across the mead
Transported on the carefree air
In their delight in new found freedom
That ends indenture to the autumn.
Now, they soar abreast like birds
Wheeling through the sky
And then, they skip in line ahead
Like children in a crocodile
Led by teachers from their school.
They cluster in a soaring pile
In a flurry of delight
And beckon with a smile
For the couple to advance
With an invitation to the dance.
The lovers stoop to choose a leaf
That invites their thoughts
To leap the ocean bounds
Borne aloft on gossamer wings
Secure in what the future brings;
Or, on board a boat to native coasts,
Ply the seas to shores they knew
And draw their craft above the tide
To whirl again upon the strand
Of that once familiar, firmer land.
The rooks in their excitement
Rise up to screech the news:
The two below have slipped their chains
And formed another bond
As they abandon all their cares
To run across the open space
In vain attempt to catch the leaves
That flutter by in dancing tease.
They, thus, succeed to mend their hearts
And fill their deep felt yearning
As they join their hands once more
United still with passion burning.
The rooks, in sombre congregation,
See the owl ascend the pulpit
To preach the joys of reconciliation,
Praising love with fulsome plaudit.
The lovers clasp each other
And dismiss their past confusion
With the thought that laughter
Has no equal
When dispelling all delusion.
Now, every grove resounds in song
For, happy day has righted wrong;
And melodious breeze draws forth its bow
To play upon autumnal strings
The hymn that through the woodland rings.