Wednesday, 4 September 2013

On the Cusp

The geese are inching their way back. I've seen three skeins in the last ten days - of maybe twenty or so birds in each. Not so many for starters - we get arrows of hundreds when they come proper - but it's a clear seasonal marker, despite the swallows still hanging on. I'm told the ones that are still here now will probably not make it back to Africa for winter. So not such a good thing to have summer stretching out a little longer, for them at least.

And of course the sileage is being harvested. The starlings go crazy for the lime bright fields and, it seems, once they've eaten enough from the soil, they come to bounce on our roof to shake out grubs from the tiles. And shit all over it and the ground surrounding the house. So while we miss out on the yellows and golds of the early autumnal shift, we do get white.

Then, last week, there was metaphorical change, with Seamus Heaney's sudden (to the unknowing) death. Another realignment, a coming to terms with unstoppable movement. Seconded by David Frost two days later.

Heaney wrote so beautifully on death. In 'The door was open and the house was dark' he talks of feeling 'a not unwelcoming | emptiness' after a friend's death. There is nothing but it is 'not unwelcoming', suggesting it is something worth being alert to. Memories, reflection, understanding the relationship, the absence, perhaps. But nor is it welcoming. The space is in suspension, as are the emotions contained in it.

This cusp is an odd place to stand - or fly if you're a swallow about to depart - being neither one thing nor another, not in one place of another, a balancing act depicted in so many of Heaney's poems. What a fitting, final act of this poet to depart at the border between summer and autumn.

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