flowers and leaves

As I walk up the hill
from a blue sky a hard rain falls,
driving leaves and flowers to the ground.
As I shelter briefly a man
with a broom and a shovel and a puffed-out black bin bag
Good morning!
It’s like the confetti after a wedding
or after the Lord Mayor’s Show!
Behind him, the bag tips over and a stream
of brown and pink and green gutters down the street.
Told you! he shouts. Just like it!

the next day the same church

yesterday bright clothes in the summertime I cried
at the wedding of slightly known people found joy
it was her parents we knew
her parents our friends

in the church close thick heat
children playfully running
babies are crying for milk or for comfort

as he walks through the door the bride’s father is ready to burst
happy for him and for her and for hundreds
for hours we eat and we drink and we dance and we talk and we talk for hours

today dark sky dark clothes
thin rain falling
sudden sombre faces in shade

same people same church
same people in church
a deeper silence a heavier air
voices older
voices quieter
yet stronger in prayer

we say goodbye and god be with you
we say goodbye and god be with us
we say goodbye and god please help us
we say goodbye forever

That cyclist hasn’t

That cyclist hasn’t thought through the whole flowers-in-the-backpack situation. Pedestrians are showered with petals like confetti. Some smile and hold hands more tightly, others brush petals from their faces. Perhaps tears. The cyclist speeds on. At his destination, perhaps a red-brick block near the bypass, disappointment waits with its usual patience.