Cosima Gillhammer

The Turning of the Year

This is the turning of the year,
Autumn approaches fast.
First leaves tinged with red,
weeping clouds and
a less gentle air.

Less gentle this life, too.
Illusions blown away
by the ravaging storm,
and the naked heart laid bare
like the dark branches of trees.

When we first spoke
we talked about spring’s sweet showers,
and the rain on our faces was warm and benign.
You were radiant then,
and the soft green of hope in your eyes.
You were the firstling of the year’s joy,
A gift unexpected, risen from snow.

We walked by the riverbank
and our smiles then were soft,
until they were scorched by the summer sun,
cracked open
and scarred
like a field newly ploughed.

And now the reaping has started,
the sound of sickles cutting
through sinew and heart.
The grain is scattered and
there is little to keep me warm
in winter’s dark night.

And perhaps this is wisdom –
to bear the withering
and yet to rejoice
in the flowers that bloomed.

This is the turning of the year,
and this is the howling
of winds over a barren land.

Cosima Gillhammer is a DPhil student and lecturer in Medieval English at the University of Oxford. Her academic research focuses on Middle English history writing and translations of Latin liturgical texts. She has had a lifelong love for poetry, but this is her first published poem. She is also a keen photographer, and her interest in nature and landscape is reflected in her writing.