The birds do not sing in these mornings. The skies are white all day. The Canadian geese fly over high up in the moonlight with the lonely sound of their discontent. Going south. Now the rains and soon the snow. The black trees are leafless, the flowers gone. Only cabbages are left in the bedraggled garden. Truth becomes visible, the architecture of the soul begins to show through. God has put off his panoply and is at home with us. We are returned to what lay beneath the beauty. We have resumed our lives. There is no hurry now. We make love without rushing and find ourselves afterward with someone we know well. Time to be what we are getting ready to be next. This loving, this relishing, our gladness, this being puts down roots and comes back again year after year. ~Jack Gilbert “Half the Truth”
Time to be what we are getting ready to be next.
Once again comes
a slowing of days and lengthening of nights;
we are being prepared for months of stillness and silence
without the rush and hurry
of madding lives.
I relish this time
peering past a vanishing beauty
to discern the Truth.
I know all too well that the end of October means the light changes, the colors fade, and the chill sets in. I grasp and bundle up what scenes I can preserve now, like harvesting hay to be tied up in bales and stored safely until the middle of winter. Then, at the right time, when I’m most hungry for color and light, I loosen the strings and let the images tumble out, feeding me like mother’s milk.
(Richard Wilbur, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning poet, passed Saturday at age 96)
Wading through an autumn field
where gradual change breaks up the beautiful once again:
to wonder at the throes of dying,
to know the kindness of a glistening dawn
when all before seemed darkness,
when all to come seems ephemeral;
brokenness in a moment
…I have been younger in October than in all the months of spring walnut and may leaves the color of shoulders at the end of summer a month that has been to the mountain and become light there the long grass lies pointing uphill even in death for a reason that none of us knows…
my love is for lightness of touch foot feather the day is yet one more yellow leaf and without turning I kiss the light by an old well on the last of the month gathering wild rose hips in the sun ~W. S. Merwin from “The Love of October” from Migration
A wind gusts through shedding branches
stripping them bare
and carrying the leaves to yards
far away, to a diverse gathering
they have never known:
chestnut, cherry, birch, walnut, apple,
maple, parrotia, pear, oak, poplar
suddenly sharing the same fate and grave,
each wearing a color of its own,
soon to blend with the others
as all slowly melt to brown.
There is lightness in letting go,
for reasons none of us knows.
The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Everything is made to perish;
the wonder of anything at all is that it has not already done so.
No, he thought.
The wonder of anything is that it was made in the first place.
What persists beyond this cataclysm of making and unmaking? ~Paul Harding from Tinkers
~whether the house stayed dry in a flood
or a forest passed over in a wildfire
or a devastating diagnosis averted
or a bank account contained sufficient funds
or gray hairs remain successfully hidden~
May I not settle for comfort and contentment
but seek to fill
my continual need
with what will not perish,
even as the leaves turn yellow
and the light begins to fade,
and rest assured
as the seasons pass, altering the landscape,
I too must be changed.
This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals, and has reached its crowning stage of dying – the delicate seed-globe must break up now – it gives and gives till it has nothing left.
The hour of this new dying is clearly defined to the dandelion globe: it is marked by detachment. There is no sense of wrenching: it stands ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or where or how the wind that bloweth where it listeth may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given; a breath does the rest…
~Lillias Trotter from “Parables of the Cross”
Might I ever stand “ready” as a field of dandelions in full-puff, seeds preparing to detach in response to a breeze or a breath?
This readiness feels very much like the peak of labor in childbirth, a moment that feels as if time has stopped – the inevitability that one can never go back to the way things were. This “crowning” of the new life as it emerges means the surrender of the old life and its resultant emptying.
May I turn my head full on to the breeze, giving and giving until I have nothing left.
Only then, only then, is there a moment of detachment that leads me to eternity.