Wind after rain. The lane
is beaten lead. Nothing
is any colour. Hedges
are scribbles of darkness.
Not a cow or sheep in grey fields.
Rain sings in the culverts,
slides the gate-bars, brambles and grasses,
glints in tyre-ruts and hoof-prints.
Only the springer’s fur flowers white,
will o’ the wisp under a gate
across a field short-sightedly
reading the script of the fox.
A sudden wheel of starlings turns
the hill’s corner, their wings a whish
of air, the darkening sound
of a shadow crossing land.
At a touch my bare ash tree rings,
the stopper of ice dissolved
in each bird-throat,
the frozen ash
become a burning bush.
by Gillian Clarke
Additional information: All Souls’ Day, also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed and the Day of the Dead, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the faithful departed, which is observed by Roman Catholics and other Christian denominations annually on 2 November.
Examples of regional customs include leaving cakes for departed loved ones on the table and keeping the room warm for their comfort in Tirol and the custom in Brittany, where people flock to the cemeteries at nightfall to kneel, bareheaded, at the graves of their loved ones and anoint the hollow of the tombstone with holy water or to pour libations of milk on it. At bedtime, supper is left on the table for the souls.
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