~Bonnie Thurston “Late Vocation”by Paraclete Press
it is permanent even as our night falls.
For some time I thought there was time
and that there would always be time
for what I had a mind to do
and what I could imagine
going back to and finding it
as I had found it the first time
but by this time I do not know
what I thought when I thought back then
there is no time yet it grows less
there is the sound of rain at night
arriving unknown in the leaves
once without before or after
then I hear the thrush waking
at daybreak singing the new song
~W.S.Merwin “The New Song”
These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time.
~Richard Wilbur from “Year’s End”
Time sweeps me along,
takes me where it wishes,
even gets the better of me
until I clutch it for a moment
to see and hear and hold it close
to never forget~~
forever restless, time escapes my grasp
and so it shall ever be.
Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first
through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop
and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.
I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening
a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.
~David Budbill – “Winter: Tonight: Sunset”from While We’ve Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press
Within these days of early winter
is disappearance of the familiar world,
of all that grows and thrives,
of color and freshness,
of hope in survival.
Then there comes a moment of softness amid the bleak,
a gift of grace and beauty,
a glance of dropping sun on a snowy hillside,
a covering of colorful cloud puffs in the valley,
a view through melting ice,
and I know the known world is still within my grasp
because you have hold of me.
Autumn is the eternal corrective.
It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity;
but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.
What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop
and fail to see the span of this world
and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?
Summer, waning and wistful, has packed up and moved on without bidding adieu or looking back over its shoulder. Cooling winds have carried in darkening clouds spewing long overdue rain. Though we need a good drenching there are still onions and potatoes to pull from the ground, apples to harvest, tomatoes not yet ripened, corn cobs just too skinny to pick.
I’m not ready to wave goodbye to sun-soaked clear skies and the lush richness of summer.
The overhead overcast is heavily burdened with clues of what is to come: earlier dusk, the feel of moisture-filled air, the deepening graying hues, the briskness of breezes. There is no negotiation possible. I steel myself and get ready, wrapping myself in the soft shawl of inevitability.
So autumn advances with the clouds, taking up residence where summer has left off. Though there is still clean up of the overabundance left behind, autumn has brought its own unique plans for display of a delicious palette of hues. It is an eternal corrective for what ails us.
The truth is we’ve seen nothing yet.
it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet
I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses
in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves
as if after a battle
or a sudden journey
I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain
in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn
~Linda Pastan “September”
I can choose to fight the inevitable march of time with sighs and sorrows,
thus arm myself with sour bitterness for what is no more,
or I can flow unmoved for as long as I can stay afloat,
only passively aware of the passage of all around me,
or I can smile with awaking each morning, whether to sun or wind or rain,
grateful I’ve been given one more day to get it right,
or at least to care enough to try.
Enter autumn as you would
a closing door. Quickly,
cautiously. Look for something inside
that promises color, but be wary
of its cast–a desolate reflection,
an indelible tint.
~Pamela Steed Hill from “September Pitch”
The door of summer has closed quickly behind me;
I am back to long days and interrupted evenings,
of worried voices and midnight calls with over-the-phone sobs,
of emergency room referrals and work-them-in schedules.
I want to tell them it’ll be okay, hug away their anguish
despite the encroaching lengthened nights;
that winter coming does not mean
the end of all.
It takes a background of darkness
for the light to shine brightest
Shadows are borne from illumination~
It will be okay, even now, even so.
Transitions, like summer fading to fall, are jarring. The silo of my life has thrown open its doors and the north winds start to blow.
I used to float the top of the grain flow more smoothly than I do now, believing I had control over the speed and course and ultimate destination.
I know better now.