was it during an evening walk
in contemplation of the sinking sun
that its illusion whispered sex burn destroy

or during all of winter and spring
did you brace against the prospect of summer
the toy that arrived annually broken in its box

perhaps you built reserves during the long nights
to exclude its bright lit melancholia lest it sweep you away
in the undertow of some false eternity

i observed it once through the prickling sweat of hay-making
working til past midnight thatching stooks of bales to keep them dry
exhaustion keeping at bay the rising temperatures of blood and air that urged riot
and more

i think i saw you years later in the corner of a pub when the city had emptied of life
theatres had shut for the season and the only occupants of bars were ageing alcoholics
those beginning their journey and those seeking to vindicate the existence of windowless
back rooms when it was still light outside

you were sitting elbows on knees dragging the life out of a cigarette
trying to find a face in the mixture of butts and spilled beer that covered the floor
no doubt you trusted your nameless companions to act as spotters while you tried incoherently
to raise the limit of safely staggering without ending up in the gutter

i remember you told me at school
how it loomed large like a night-time silhouette in the doorway
that was the first glimpse wasn’t it – just visiting to let you know the score

forty years later and i find you here in the park covered in red and gold leaves
thrown at you like you had been begging but wearing them like campaign medals for
surviving another season and reaching the temporary haven beyond the equinox

you told me once that this is the only time of year you felt safe
when the ominous inside and out is in balance so things don’t seem distorted
even if it was only for a few weeks

so to hell with the primroses and daffodils with roses and scented jasmine
gather mouldering leaves by the armful and rejoice in their decay
bring on death to do its damnedest
we will be here next autumn
danker darker and richer in our hearts
death is defeated
when its nothingness has already been lived

Selected byNolcha Fox
Image credit:Dan Freeman

Cameron McClure doesn’t exist. He is the pen-name for a  permanently retired civil servant who lives in Northern Ireland and likes nothing better than competitive banter over a pint or two. He believes it will all come right on the night because he’s happier that way and no-one has yet proved him wrong though a lot of well-meaning people try to for some reason.