These dark winter days

It is November afternoon, about half past four,
and the dark is beguilingly bright;
A long evening with no ‘fresh hell’ stretches ahead
and after that, let’s hope, a good good-night.
In the shortening hours when lowering light wanes
a weary brain can relinquish tension.
And God-fearing day with all its vicissitudes
exits the stage for a new dimension.

Vestiges of summer linger into October –
autumn or fall by another name.
December is always consumed by Christmas
lights tinsel baubles and the partying game.
Not content, even November, in commercial
hegemony, relinquishes spirit.
Embrace Mistress January (month of birth) –
and she, Clare says, ‘tells her tales by starts and fits’. 1

In childhood I would lament the sad old dying year
and never could celebrate the new.
Oh, go on then, fools!  Cheer and cheer on each which comes
and never mind the old which once you knew.
Crazily you celebrate the promise and fickleness
of each new lover’s eager grope.
Cast it off, throw it away, with the paper wrapping,
into a bin of discarded hope.

November, a time to reflect,
while resolute wildlife sees out the year as best it can.
Both sexes of Robins sing on, defending their space
from Nordic kin who come to Britain.
Soon, fleets of northern thrushes arrive,
to chatter and gossip over winter nutrition.
Come harder the winter, the farther they go,
matching energy spent with nourishment won.

In the deepening dusk, I leave my little shack and head home –
hoping for nourishment too.
Robins’ trills and chirrups come affectionately but
I know full well this is not their view.
A species so confiding, loved by man,
is merely declaiming stage and territory.
But still I hope it might find a true friend,
for wherever we are, there will be sanctuary.

© RM Meyer
The Highlands, January 2022

1 John Clare, The Shepherd’s Calendar

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