A wind has blown the rain away
and blown the sky away
and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand.
I think, I too,
have known autumn too long.
No matter how stripped down I feel~
how “autumned” I’ve become:
defenseless, uncovered, barren,
soaked through by the rains
and chilled by the winds of the coming winter
I once was ablaze, alive, vibrant,
burning with color and passion,
and will be again.
Autumn is never the end of my story.
My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.
~Robert Frost “My November Guest”
this month of deepening darkening,
to a recounting of gratitude
of daily thanksgiving and blessings~~
it is good to dwell on our gifts,
it is right to invite Sorrow
to sit in silence with us,
her tears blending with ours.
These dark-dwelled days
of bare stripped branches
feed our growing need
for the covering grace,
of His coming Light.
It was gray and drizzly the November 15 you were born thirty years ago, very much like today’s gray drizzle.
November is too often like that–there are times during this darkening month when we’re never really certain we’ll see the sun again. The sky is gray, the mountain is all but invisible behind the clouds, the air hangs heavy with mist, woods and fields are all shadowy. The morning light starts late and the evening takes over early.
Yet you changed November for us that day. You brought sunshine to our lives once again. You smiled almost from the first day, always responding, always watching, ready to engage with your new family. You were a delight from that first moment we saw you and have been a light in our lives and so many other lives ever since.
And you married another bright light and now you shine together.
I know this is your favorite kind of weather because you were born to it–you’ve always loved the misty fog, the drizzle, the chill winds, the hunkering down and waiting for brighter days to come.
November 15 was, and each year it still is, that brighter day.
Mom and Dad
And then in the falling comes a rising,
as of the bass coming up for autumn’s last insects
struggling amid the mosaic of leaves on the lake’s surface.
We express it as the season of lacking, but what is this nakedness
— the unharvested corn frost-shriveled but still a little golden
under the diffuse light of a foggy sky,
the pin oak’s newly stark web of barbs, the woodbine’s vines
shriven of their scarlet and left askew in the air
like the tangle of threads on the wall’s side
of the castle tapestry—what is it but greater intimacy,
the world slackening its grip on the veils, letting them slump
to the floor in a heap of sodden colors, and saying,
this is me, this is my skeletal muscle,
my latticework of bones, my barren winter skin,
this is it and if you love me, know that this is what you love.
~Laura Fargas “October Struck” from Animal of the Sixth Day
Something about the emerging nakedness of autumn reassures that we can be loved even when stripped down to our bones. We do make quite a show of shedding our coverings, our bits and pieces fluttering down to rejoin the soil, but what is left is meager lattice.
But when the light is just right, we are golden, illuminated and illuminating, even if barely there.
The wild November come at last
Beneath a veil of rain;
The night winds blows its folds aside,
Her face is full of pain.
The latest of her race, she takes
The Autumn’s vacant throne:
She has but one short moon to live,
And she must live alone.
A barren realm of withered fields
Bleak woods of fallen leaves,
The palest morns that ever dawned,
The dreariest of eves:
It is no wonder that she comes
Poor month, with tears of pain:
But what can one so hopeless do,
But weep, and weep again?
~Richard Henry Stoddard “November”
November is here,
having swept in on rain and wind,
leaving a mess of sorrow and silt in its wake,
a reminder of our fragility and need for shelter
from the storms of life.
Blown off course,
drenched to the marrow,
pining for the light lost
to the advancing calendar,
we hunker down in place,
burrowing in for the long dark winter.
It is coming,
this veil of tears.
It is coming,
these night winds blowing away
our shield and protection.
It is coming,
this new moon forgetting how to shine.
Our light illuminates from within,
ignited and irrepressible,
fueled by an overflowing abundance
of gentle loving and tender mercies.
Wheels of baled hay bask in October sun:
Gold circles strewn across the sloping field,
They seem arranged as if each one
Has found its place; together they appeal
To some glimpsed order in my mind
Preceding my chance pausing here —
A randomness that also seems designed.
Gold circles strewn across the sloping field
Evoke a silence deep as my deep fear
Of emptiness; I feel the scene requires
A listener who can respond with words, yet who
Prolongs the silence that I still desire,
Relieved as clacking crows come flashing through,
Whose blackness shows chance radiance of fire.
Yet stillness in the field remains for everyone:
Wheels of baled hay bask in October sun.
~Robert Pack “Baled Hay” from Rounding it Out: A Cycle of Sonnetelles (1999).
Each day I am called to see and listen,
to open fully to all that is around me.
From the simple stillness of the fields
surrounding our farm,
to the weeping of those who sit with me
day after day
in their deep fear of emptiness,
their struggle with whether to try to live
or give up and die.
Their deep fear of emptiness renders me silent;
I struggle to respond with words
that might offer up a healing balm
assuring them even in the darkest time
hope lies waiting, wrapped and baled,
radiant as fire,
ready to spill out fragrant,
to bear us silently to a new morning,
to a stillness borne of grace.
The rain and the wind, the wind and the rain —
They are with us like a disease:
They worry the heart,
they work the brain,
As they shoulder and clutch at the shrieking pane,
And savage the helpless trees.
What does it profit a man to know
These tattered and tumbling skies
A million stately stars will show,
And the ruining grace of the after-glow
And the rush of the wild sunrise?
~William Ernest Henley from “The Rain and the Wind”
Yesterday a heavy rain
darkened a sodden gray dawn
when unbidden, a sudden gust
ripped loose remaining leaves
and sent them spinning,
in yellow clouds.
The battering of rain and wind
left no doubt
summer is done for good —
the past is past.
I hunker through the turbulence,
tattered and tumbling,
and await a clear night for
heaven to empty itself into
a fragile crystalline dawn.