Talisman

When the days shorten

And morning and evening seem almost to kiss

When the darkness surrounds

I chase the gold as it slips behind the horizon.

Hoping it might remain for a moment longer.

But it is gone.

 

I look down.

In my hand I am clutching three embers

salvaged from the spent flames of a nearby tree.

A quiver of gilded crimson.

I didn’t realise I would need them now

As the day departs and the darkness resumes its watch.

I hold tight to my treasure

A promise of tomorrow,

of another year.

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This poem met me on my walk this evening.

As I rounded the corner I saw the sky above the rooftops, intense orange. By the time I had walked another five minutes to the river, where I could see the horizon and the place the sun sinks, it was all but gone, a small patch of egg yolk yellow disappearing rapidly.

Some days hope and joy are only briefly glimpsed. The nights are long and the beauty to be found sparse. Some days even though you run to catch sight of something which could sustain you, it slips from your grasp.

On days like this, I have to go searching. I cannot rely on the world to provide beauty for me.

The trees in Liverpool are all but bare now. We are in the days where their glory covers the pavements and is trampled by feet busy rushing from one place to another. Without thinking I find myself collecting leaves every time I am outside. A handful of jewels, wet and shining from the rain. I bring them home wishing I could preserve them, use them to decorate my house.

But after a day or two on my kitchen table they start to curl up at the edges, becoming brittle and dry. I throw them away before they turn into piles of dust.

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I need fresh joy, fresh beauty, fresh hope, daily. Yesterday’s offering will not satisfy today’s desire. These gifts are transient, they have a limited shelf life.

My soul needs nourishment and it doesn’t often come gift wrapped and delivered to my door. I have to go looking for it, and when I find it I have to cherish it. I have to pick up the leaves, to brandish them, to run to the river to catch the sunset, to sneak in and kiss my son as he sleeps. I have to remind myself of all the good there is, especially when so much feels so dark.

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