I went out to cut a last batch of zinnias this
morning from the back fencerow and got my shanks
chilled for sure: furrowy dark gray clouds with
separating fringes of blue sky-grass: and the dew
beaded up heavier than the left-overs of the rain:
in the zinnias, in each of two, a bumblebee
stirring in slow motion. Trying to unwind
the webbed drug of cold, buzzing occasionally but
with a dry rattle: bees die with the burnt honey
at their mouths, at least: the fact’s established:
it is not summer now and the simmering buzz is out of
heat: the zucchini blossoms falling show squash
overgreen with stunted growth: the snapdragons have
suckered down into a blossom or so: we passed
into dark last week the even mark of day and night
and what we hoped would stay we yield to change.
~A.R. Ammons “Equinox”
We yield now
to the heaviness of the change;
a slowing of our walk
and the darkening of our days.
It is time:
day and night compete
and neither wins.
The passing of the summer fills again
my heart with strange sweet sorrow, and I find
the very moments precious in my palm.
Each dawn I did not see, each night the stars
in spangled pattern shone, unknown to me,
are counted out against me by my God,
who charges me to see all lovely things…
~Jane Tyson Clement from “Autumn”
I know I have missed too much over my life time:
so many one-of-a-kind masterpieces hung in the sky
at the beginning and the ending of each day
I never noticed, being asleep to beauty.
I no longer move oblivious
through the birthing and the dying of the days
without shedding a tear,
now knowing how precious the moments
and how rare and loving the Artist.
Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,
then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?
This is the best—
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso—
maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins—
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,
dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,
and, if necessary, the windows—
trees fifty, a hundred years old
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.
~Billy Collins “Morning”
Dawn is a new gift every day,
even if the shortest night was sleepless,
and the longest day won’t return for another year.We get up
to see just what might happen
as you never know what might be
just over the horizon
as we round the solstice corner
to face the darkening.That’s why we bother.
All creatures are doing their best
to help God in His birth
Enough talk for the night.
He is laboring in me;
I need to be silent
for a while,
worlds are forming
in my heart.
~Meister Eckhart from “Expands His Being”
The first day of spring is a traditional celebration of the rebirth of nature’s seasonal rhythms, and God’s inner renewal of our hearts.
I know some new spring mornings are pitch black with blustering winds and rain, looking and feeling like the bleakest of October mornings about to plunge into the death spiral of deep autumn and winter all over again.
No self-respecting God would birth Himself into something like this: a dawn as dark as night.
But this God would.
He labors in our darkest of hearts for good reason. We are unformed and unready to meet Him in the light, clinging as we do to our dark ways and thoughts. Though we are called to celebrate the renewal of springtime, it is just so much talk until we accept the change of being transformed ourselves.
We are silenced as He prepares us, as He prepares Himself for birth within us. The labor pains are His, not ours; we become awed witnesses to His first and last breath when He makes all things, including us, new again.
The world is reborn — even where dark reigned before, even where it is bleakest, especially inside our broken hearts now healing.
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.
Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.
Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.
~Stanley Kunitz from “End of Summer”
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.
Time carries me relentlessly down its silo, dunking me under its contents, only to surface breathless to gulp down what air I can before I go under again.
Each day I must admit a small part of my life is over, and each year I must admit the bulk of my life is over. The silo of time empties bit by bit, its hollowness echoing in my ears.
I hope the harvest will have fed others well.
The songs of small birds fade away
into the bushes after sundown,
the air dry, sweet with goldenrod.
Beside the path, suddenly, bright asters
flare in the dusk. The aged voices
of a few crickets thread the silence.
It is a quiet I love, though my life
too often drives me through it deaf.
Busy with costs and losses, I waste
the time I have to be here—a time
blessed beyond my deserts, as I know,
if only I would keep aware. The leaves
rest in the air, perfectly still.
I would like them to rest in my mind
as still, as simply spaced. As I approach,
the sorrel filly looks up from her grazing,
poised there, light on the slope
as a young apple tree. A week ago
I took her away to sell, and failed
to get my price, and brought her home
again. Now in the quiet I stand
and look at her a long time, glad
to have recovered what is lost
in the exchange of something for money.
~Wendell Berry “The Sorrel Filly”
On the final day of summer, it seems much is lost. I struggle to stay awake to each passing moment, wanting to hang on tight to what has just disappeared into the ether of time.
These lost moments are not for sale; there is no price high enough. They can be recovered, treasured up, stored away.
Never to be forgotten.