We awaken to Autumn’s fog
low light, dripping trees,
quiet roads through rolling land
In the North, far hills
from cloud-hidden sleeps
& something stirs.
Something stirs that can only stir
as Summer ends
robins begin to sing;
quietly, almost to themselves, they mark the change.
Starlings make their Winter-chatter
in the pylon, while on the wire
gossip of Africa, stretch their wings.
We gather in St. Nicholas’;
horn-home; low & dark among the trees
tangled tine-tips just visible in a row
laid at the vicar’s feet for blessing.
The antler-roots of the kin-tree
that weave & bob that ancient dance
that ties us together, dancers & faithful followers
as if our breath were synchronised.
As if we’d always walked these roads,
& as if we were meant to be here
by some greater design;
summoned by the sun’s steepening climb.
Summoned by berries & bird-song;
leaves turning pale on the trees’ faces,
giant bales on lorries’ backs,
kids in new school uniforms.
Rising to greet the sunlit window,
with a thousand years of limb-strength
six men shoulder their yearly burden
of village luck.
born on the back
of road-revolving horns;
the tourney horse, the archer, the maid, the fool.
Down the little lane
the day’s dancing lies ahead of us now,
first song notes
near the whirligig green.
The heart opens;
this must be said!
there is a blessing smile
on everyone’s faces.
Sun will come & cakes & ale
the community of follower-friends
& dancers make their way
all round the houses.
Today we will flee dark clouds
of roaring, bubbling rain
into pub rooms
back gardens, bus stops, sheds.
& Abbots Bromley
will be full;
we’ll line the streets
with our hurrahs.
But for now, as the dancers pass
through morning lanes;
in the rain soaked hedge,
all the leaves are listening.