Diaries of the Dark
In the year which the sun is snuffed out
writers transcribe the dark.
The sun gave forth its light without brightness.
It was like the moon the whole year.1
Ash blown from the volcano eclipses the sun.
This light is only a feeble shadow, the fruits will not ripen.
The philosophers are baffled
at why the sky seems all embers, no fire.
The moon has lost its lustre the seasons are confused.
Cold, starvation, men stumbling upon their own paths.
All are unanchored without the lodestone of sun.
We marvel to see no shadows of our bodies even at noon.
A palpable darkness, a lack of understanding.
a cowl worn upon the minds of men.
Yet the trees reveal all, centuries later.
A spring flood of the river, birch trees rise
through washed away earth,
sliced through, their rings are analysed,
show scars left by an eruption.
All this time the truth has been written
in their hearts.
Here is where we read the volcano,
in these rooted diaries of the dark.
Scientists have found evidence in trees of a volcanic eruption in Iceland in early 536. At the time of the eruption, Byzantine writers such as Procopius spoke of a darkness that eclipsed the sun.
1 All quotes in italics are by Byzantine speakers including Procopius.
Last time I walked here,
the thistles were veiled
with webs, a hundred spiked brides,
their filigree sequined with rain.
Now they are bound with the springs
of the rough brother of clematis –
Old Man’s Beard
creeping his way up,
predating on every slender vine.
I created this gold season
of gilded death -
the leaves molten exodus,
their gold flight through air.
These oaks are my closest courtiers,
they distribute their alms like rich men
with no need for coins.
Even wind does my bidding,
its choir sings a slow dirge
to which the clouds
troupe, across a cloistered sky.
The man who took my Persephone
wasn’t the only one to abduct a girl,
every year countless Hades
rip daughters from the earth.
The trees grieve all season.
Hell in flesh, these Hades,
yet they cannot outdo the alchemy.
Even at this time of loss
there is such splendour.
Look to the boughs
where my colours reside
next to a lost daughter’s green.
Anna Saunders has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North, and Tears in the Fence said of her ‘Anna Saunders’ poetry is reminiscent of Plath – with all its alpha achievement and radiance’.
She is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox, Ghosting for Beginners, Feverfew and the forthcoming The Prohibition of Touch, (all from Indigo Dreams).
She is also the Executive Director of Cheltenham Poetry Festival and works as a creative writing tutor and mentor, communications specialist, journalist, broadcaster and copywriter/editor.