Autumn Fades

That time of year thou mayst in me behold/ When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang/ Upon those trees which shake against the cold./ Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

  • William Shakespeare, Sonnet 73

A month ago, when there were still leaves on the trees, someone drew a chalk butterfly on a wall.

Something colourful was created, always designed to be washed away, transitory, like a real butterfly.

Then the storm came, the wind rattled the trees until they lost their golden leaves. A season of solitude dawns again.

The gold leaves, as they blew away, reminded me of the gold leaf patterns in some of the NHS portraits by Mahtab Hussain that were part of the “Everyday Heroes” Exhibition, exhibited on the exterior of the Southbank Centre and Hayward Gallery during the pandemic.

Who knows what the world will look like when the leaves leave again? And do the trees, which bend but rarely break, look down at humans, and think of them as fleeting, as momentary, as their shaking leaves?