“Let me enjoy this late-summer day of my heart while the leaves are still green and I won’t look so close as to see that first tint of pale yellow slowly creep in. I will cease endless running and then look to the sky ask the sun to embrace me and then hope she won’t tell of tomorrows less long than today. Let me spend just this time in the slow-cooling glow of warm afternoon light and I’d think I will still have the strength for just one more last fling of my heart.”
– John Bohrn, Late August
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?
There are times when all appears to be perishing, especially in the dying time of year when the world is drying up and blowing away like dust storms. The obituary pages predominate in the paper, accompanying an overload of bad news, mass shootings and suicide bombings. All appears to be perishing with no relief or hope.
Even the leaves are bleeding red.
But it is the waning light and shortening days coloring my view like smoky haze in the sky painting a sunset deep orange. Darkness is temporary and inevitably helpless; it can never overcome the light of all things made.
Life persists in the midst of perishing because of the cataclysm of a loving and bleeding God dying as sacrifice. Nothing, nothing can ever be the same.
“God goes where God has never gone before.”
~ Kathleen Mulhern in Dry Bones
This upstart thistle
Is young and touchy; it is
All barb and bristle,
Threatening to wield
Its green, jagged armament
Against the whole field.
Butterflies will dare
Nonetheless to lay their eggs
In that angle where
The leaf meets the stem,
So that ants or browsing cows
Cannot trouble them.
Summer will grow old
As will the thistle, letting
A clenched bloom unfold
To which the small hum
Of bee wings and the flash of
Goldfinch wings will come,
Till its purple crown
Blanches, and the breezes strew
The whole field with down.
~Richard Wilbur “A Pasture Poem”
This hour along the valley this light at the end
of summer lengthening as it begins to go
this whisper in the tawny grass this feather floating
in the air this house of half a life or so
this blue door open to the lingering sun this stillness
echoing from the rooms like an unfinished sound
this fraying of voices at the edge of the village
beyond the dusty gardens this breath of knowing
without knowing anything this old branch from which
years and faces go on falling this presence already
far away this restless alien in the cherished place
this motion with no measure this moment peopled
with absences with everything that I remember here
eyes the wheeze of the gate greetings birdsongs in winter
the heart dividing dividing and everything
that has slipped my mind as I consider the shadow
all this has occurred to somebody else who has gone
as I am told and indeed it has happened again
and again and I go on trying to understand
how that could ever be and all I know of them
is what they felt in the light here in this late summer
~ W.S. Merwin “Season”
…the notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies…
There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.
~Robert Haas from “Meditation at Lagunitas”