‘He is gone. Say it. Say it to yourself, to the room,
say it loud enough to believe it.’
—Paula Meehan, ‘Laburnam’

September, you cover your ears
against the shrill whistle of fast approaching autumn,
swallows making ready to carry off
the last of summer. He is gone.

Say it. His name on your lips
like a mantra, not letting go,
offering only his name, repeating
a spell that could bring him back.

He is gone. September, the golden light
gone with him, grey landscape
camps at your city walls. Go out now
to the hedgerows, with the vessel of your heart.

You must go from bush to briar, gathering,
harvesting your bright fruit,
sharp hips, sweet berries, all of you,
every kernel, every nut, every seed.

Harvest the apples, the star-fruit.
Pick them with thought, with
kind attention to your bruising,
hold yourself in the palm of your hand.

Seek the reds that will inflame you
flush your winter, rose-hip,
hawthorn, scarlet rowan,
guelder fire to feed the hearth.

With your hands pricked and bleeding
reap blackberries, reap the smoked
blues and purples, damsons,
sloes eager for their first frost.

Hoard not this bounty, lay it
before the birds of the air,
the creatures of the fields:
he is gone, make of yourself an offering.