Athanase Vantchev de Thracy
Autumn leaves are massing in the old playground
Where one swing still dangles after
The children rushed home for their tea.
This is the hour between four and five when
All time hangs heavy yet inspiration seems dead,
There are only so many pens to be counted or
Papers shuffled and left untidy as fatigue descends.
Is this the hour to walk in the park or risk
A last coffee which might disturb your sleep
Or punish you with dreams like absurdist plays
Where the dead play aardvaarks or wardrobes
And yet demand bouquets and encores?
Is it right for a grown man to be seen kicking up leaves?
Friends seem to have no telephones;
In an age of mobiles and portables this seems
At the very least surprising, but isn’t it the
Modern habit not to reply to what can be easily deleted,
Tenuous friendships, virtual love affairs, yesterday’s news?
The old-fashioned letter writer is an endangered species
With his fountain pens, his unblemished paper, his blue envelopes.
Crows are scribbling upon the placid sky,
In the street white vans are still hurrying to fulfil
Today’s page in an overstuffed diary,
And no one is on the streets, except the woman
From the corner shop, the man who talks to himself.
The rest must all be incarcerated by the fire,
With a paperback, a tabloid, afternoon TV,
Tea, biscuits, nagging memories.
You were never one for cosiness,
You prefer your skies to be raw, unclouded,
So that the low sun can burn through
Your unwashed glass and set fire to
The spines of your books.
Isn’t home wherever we set down our coats,
In whatever airport lounge, in whatever
Waiting room in a far distant town?
And are we not here to work, to comprehend,
To persist on certain roads, to follow all diversions,
To celebrate, to pray, to hope, to glorify
Whatever passes, whatever remains,
To be true to our departed from a longer distance,
And, on this autumn afternoon, to tip out
Our desk drawer in search of that bottle
Of ink of the deepest azure?