Earth has birthed an abundance of fruit:
tawny acorn knots rain hard from oak trees;
hollies burn brightly with a blood-red flame;
magenta spindles split open orange hearts.
A young boy kicks spiky shells with his boot,
searching for chestnuts in a sea of sunset leaves –
it’s conker time, and children play the game,
knocking hardened seeds until they burst apart.

Kim M. Russell, 18th October 2020   

1,020 Conkers Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images

My response to Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry #42: Autumnal

Thank you, Rosemary and Sarah of Purple in Portland, for the autumnal poems – they inspired me to write one too!

27 thoughts on “Bursting

    1. How I loved playing conkers when a youngster in Britain so many years ago in the time of war when simple things were all we had to amuse ourselves. Climbing trees was another, catching tadpoles in a pond one more and fishing for tiddler fish in rivers one more. Who needed electronics?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “knocking hardened seeds until they burst apart.”
    reading that line my mind never stays at the texture of seeds but rather wanders to riot of colour in your Autumn trees
    Happy Sunday, thanks fir dropping by my sumie Sunday today


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never played or heard of conkers, but you make it sound like a world of fun. The colors, the interactions, the labor that goes into the creation of the game tools… I love it all. Also, the process of finding the best chestnut reminds me of how, when I was a child, we used to make wheels from the seedpods of the sandbox tree. I was the smallest of the group–and usually ill and tired–so I was often charged with the jobs that didn’t require too much speed or too much time under the sun. Awwww, the lovely old days…

    You are so good at conjuring memories, Kim.

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    1. It is not all fun as each of two players takes turns to hit the the other player’s conker with his, hoping to shatter it and win! However the chance of your hand being hit as you hold your conker on a string is also a possibility…but that hurts a lot!

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      1. I’m often outraged (and slightly impressed) at how vicious certain children’s games can be. Growing up, we had a game called “sharpas” (made of flattened and then sharpened bottle caps). We would drill two holes through the center of the flattened caps, feed strong thread through them and tie it into a loop. Then, we would wind and wind the string… When the string was tight, we would pull (that would make the sharpened cap spin) while trying to cut each other’s strings. As you might imagine, there were accidents–nasty cuts, mostly.

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    2. That is so kind of you, Magaly. Conkers is a British thing. I’ve loved horse chestnuts since I was a child. We had two massive trees growing outside the block of flats where we lived. I loved the shiny hardness of them, the way they look like antique wood, the spikiness of the green shells and the way they split open. To play conkers, you had to harden the nuts, make a hole in them and thread them with string, and then took it in turns to challenge each other to a duel: you held your conker still while the other person whacked it with their conker with the aim of smashing it to smithereens. I didn’t join in because I felt sorry for the horse chestnut watching its babies being pulped.

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  3. “Playing conkers” is foreign to me. My husband carried a .good luck chestnut in his pocket for years which fell from a tree near the firehouse where he worked for years, but I’ve never heard the term conkers. I loved the autumn feeling of your poem!

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    1. Thank you, Bev. Conkers is a British thing. It has been banned from playgrounds as too dangerous, but I believe children still hunt for conkers, mainly for classroom displays, and some still play the game.


  4. Conkers. Yes, getting out in nature and touching it, interacting… WE used to jump in a pile of leaves, spin the oak “helicopter” seeds, make “leaf-tea” picnics (didn’t really drink), made corn husk dolls… My mom kicked us outside and we had to imagine… Love this poem of autumn and the fun to be had.

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