King of Autumn

At last they led me
deep into arbored oaks,
and at their core, a grove, ringed in gold,
of aspen, and down in a hollow of earth,
its great berm of root exposed, was a throne.

The King of Autumn was clothed in grey, his antlers
graced the hanging foliage.
He did not heed the approaching retinue, but rose,
took a bowl from beneath his throne,
dipped it in an adjoining pool,
and, pulling back his ashen robes, came
to the centre of the grove where a still-
-green sapling stood in a crown of red.

His amber eyes had deep-sunk pupils,
searching the hollows of cheek
bones, crowsfeet. He let the water spill,
filling the grove with a field of flickering light.
The sapling burst in orange flames,
changed from a living thing
to the voice of Autumn’s King.

It spoke: Son of the Dust,
you have been given a seed,
a simple stone, a fulsome thing.
My Kingdom has come, my blood
races out to the furthest marks.
I will split the leaf, I will sing
my praises in tongues of flame.
But you must carry this seed;
you must be the song that remains.

When I woke, I was wound in my sheets.
The breeze blew bitingly through the unlatched
window, which I closed. Red leaves,
that would soon be black, plastered themselves
on the neighbour’s roof. I folded the linens
and pondered the art of resurrection.