Helen Whittaker and Frank Gibson

Frank Gibson


Inspiration piece


Helen Whittaker

The first leaf of autumn



Phaedra the wood nymph sings and dances, showering the glade with rose petals. She is naked apart from a chain of daisies around her head. As she sways, her long hair swings. Suddenly she stops.

‘Who’s there?’ she calls. ‘Show yourself!’

A young man emerges from a bush. He has sun gold hair and sky blue eyes, and his garments are willow green.

‘I am Summer,’ he says, ‘deity of the season. I wander the earth at this time of year, inspecting my handiwork.’

‘I am not your handiwork,’ says Phaedra. ‘You have no right to inspect me.’


Dear Diary,

You’ll never guess what happened today! I was singing and dancing in the nude like I always do, and this bloke popped up out of a bush and told me he was a god. A god!!!! I was totally gobsmacked — you don’t get to meet gods very often. Actually, I did meet one once, but he was old and ugly and full of himself, so he doesn’t count. And this one was abso-bloody-lutely gorgeous! He tried to kiss me and I didn’t stop him. I think I’m in lurve!


From: bunny@yahoo.com

To: freeze_ur_butt@gmail.com; misty@hotmail.com

Subject: Our wayward brother


It has come to my attention that Summer has declared his love for the wood nymph Phaedra.

It is not fitting for a deity to become romantically involved with a semi-mortal.

We need to take action.


Vernal Deity


From: freeze_ur_butt@gmail.com

To: bunny@yahoo.com; misty@hotmail.com

Subject: Re: Our wayward brother

I reckon wood nymphs are fair game. I tried to cop off with Phaedra myself once, and she gave me the cold shoulder. If I can’t have her, then I don’t see why anyone else should.

I agree that we’ve got to do something.




From: misty@hotmail.com

To: freeze_ur_butt@gmail.com; bunny@yahoo.com

Subject: Re: Our wayward brother

Hey guys,

I don’t think there’s anything we can do right now. It’s Summer’s time, you know? But when the first leaf of autumn falls, the mystical power thingy transfers to me, and I’ll do something rad.


Your mellow brother,

Autumn (AKA Fall)



Summer is drawing
to a close. It rains all night
and in the morning

the lovers embrace
beneath a maple tree and
share tearful goodbyes.

‘I’ll come back next year,’
says Summer. ‘You better had,’
Phaedra whispers back.

As they pull apart
a leaf spins down towards the
puddle at their feet.

And then it happens.
Phaedra turns to stone right where
she’s standing; eyes wide,

fingers to lips, mouth
open in surprise. She won’t
dance and sing again

until Summer sneaks
back into the woods and the
roses bloom once more.

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  1. Posted May 28, 2011 at 4:20 am | #

    Oh, this is great! Love the modern spin to the myth…emails are great! Lots of creativity! Great work!

  2. Posted May 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm | #

    Thanks, Linda. It was easy being creative with Frank’s image as inspiration!

  3. Posted July 6, 2015 at 11:44 pm | #

    Interesting to read this on a day with showers during the morning. I think I like the mix of the old fables(?) with a fusion of modern comments. Of course the poem and the comments are of over 5 years ago except mine, what changes now I wonder with the nymphs.

    Mike, 07-07-2015