It is autumn here in the Blue Mountains in Australia. The world has been getting steadily colder for weeks, the sun has retreated in the sky, and leaves are falling to the ground in great numbers. It is both beautiful and melancholy, and it instills a form of sun-worship deep inside me that I don't think I will ever lose - even though I grew up as a child of the tropics.
I don't like knowing there are still three bleak months of winter to come, so I focus on the small, visual beauties of autumn in the here and now.
Back in high school, I remember we were given an English Lit assignment of writing a poem about autumn. We never did enough of the creative writing, which was my favourite thing (although I used to anticipate it so much, the joy in the actual writing and end result never lived up to expectation).
For the autumn poem, I can't remember what I wrote (thank goodness!) except that I tried to make it rhyme. I tried to use all the right imagery borrowed from the poets we were studying - mellow golden leaves and such. Back then, where I went to high school in Oz, autumns were so mild as to be non-existent. They were certainly nothing like they are outside my house as I write this.
I remember I got a B for the high school poem. This was the difficulty of doing creative writing assignments in school. The grade was rarely in proportion to the energy, effort, crippling angst and hope poured into the submitted product.
I did ask the teacher, Mr K., what I could have done to improve my grade. He responded with some dramatic oration about running out of inspiration when it had gone midnight and the port had run out. (Mr K. was a true lover of literature. He would wax lyrical about the opening pages of Thomas Hardy's book describing the haunting, forbidding moors. In spite of being faced with dozens of bored, philistine teenager day in, day out, he never seemed to lose his enthusiasm). Except maybe when the port ran out.
Looking back now, I'll say what Mr K. was too kind to say and I'll hurt my 16-year-old self's feelings and dismiss my poem as 'meh'.
Now that autumn is something I live in and actually experience - in all its moods, if I had to do that assignment again, this is the one I'd submit.
As the days grow short,
Leaves throw off their green coats of caution.
They drink greedily of the retreating sun.
They absorb its stories
And share them in reds, purples and gold.
They drop en masse to the ground,
Glowing & breathless with colour and warmth.
There they remain as the days grow shorter,
Curling up underfoot in carpets,
Like little animals nesting together for winter,
Colours slowly fading like lost butterfly wings,
Seeping, sleeping back into the earth.
They dream of warm breezes,
A returning sun,
And emerald buds dancing so high in trees,
They can touch the sky.