Shortest Day

The year is on the ebb
The pendulum is low
All is in retreat
A few last leaves hang
Unloosed by snatching gales
Limp as sodden leather 
Languishing lifelessly
Allies of dead summer
Flapping on the gibbet
To set an example
The once-emboldened sun
Slides dreary through the motions
Shuffling low in bleary skies
Midsummer’s swagger
Exchanged for vacant stare
Early apologies replacing
Lavish lingering days
Brazen pageantry
The ruddy-cheeked excess
Of lighter times
Now ruts congeal along the lanes
Silence guards bald hedgerows
Cold curfew reigning where
Fleeting months before
Summer in his cups spread
Rich freewheeling feasts
Fragrant floral tapestries
Draped the basking fields
And starling songs resounded
Easy through soft air
But fruitfulness is gone
For now
The soil sprouts only ice
A sterile crystal pelt drawn
Tight on sleeping ground
Life is battened down
Clenching trembling faith
In this monochrome kingdom
Where water reigns the elements
And all the silent birds are black