Apples have been pressed into a frothy
cloudiness, and a chiffchaff is hopping
from rose bush to fruit tree, but the swallows
have gone now, collectively withdrawing
like fielders from a cricket season.
In spring the courtyard was a velodrome –
they wheeled and whirled around the stonework, brushed
faces at the half-open stable door,
soared into the middle air and darted
onto rafters in open-sided barns.
They greeted cats with warning cries, lined up
on rooftops for explosions of chatter,
skimmed the insect-heavy crops and watched us
watching them. But now they are gone, leaving
the incurable coldness of autumn.
‘Dah-svedahnyah, lehta, dah-svedahnyah.’*
* Until we meet again, summer, goodbye (an old Russian song).