Cold Autumn Poem

Autumn scene

Autumn Song

Afternoon in late September
Shows us signs we both can follow,
Shadows where there were no shadows
Days before, encroach on meadows,
Turning brittle brown and yellow.
Six o’clock’s a dying ember
Causing grown men to remember
Another fall’s disturbing echo.

When, unnoticed, fell the first leaves,
Yellow elm leave tired of sunshine?
Who suspected seeing such ease
When the first chill stunned the green vine?
Is embarrassment the reason
Sumac’s crimson hides its poison?
When was foliage last so supine?

Rainy night in mid-October
Brings the icy confirmation —
Twigs encased in shiny coffins
Clenched in cold that never softens.
Even daylight’s ministration
Alters no repose so sober
As the sleep of mid-October,
Sleep of spreading desolation.


(1979)

Notes:  Took a walk this evening and it finally felt cold for the first time.  Cold enough to pull this old poem out, dust it off, and trot it out again.

Written years ago and far away, when I lived in a much different climate.  My Puget Sound friends and neighbors might find it hard to relate to an autumn that leaves twigs encased in icy coffins, but my friends back in Minnesota understand all too well.

I recall one Halloween when my son and I set out at dusk to trick or treat in Minneapolis.  We made our way about two blocks as it began to snow hard, then harder.  We almost didn’t make it back home as we trudged through calf-deep drifts.

Autumn has its beauty.  “Every leaf is a flower,” is a beautiful sentiment.

But the fall is also one of God’s great metaphors.  And that makes it poignant, even as it is achingly beautiful.

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All Saint’s Haiku

Ginko tree in October

The modest ginkgo
adorns herself in splendor
for All Hallows’ Eve.


NOTES: All Hallows’ Eve begins the 3-day observance of All Hallows’ Tide, dedicated to remembering the dead, including the saints, martyrs, and faithful departed.

According to current statistics from Open Doors, each month around the world, 322 Christians are killed for their faith,

Halloween Haiku

Ginkgo tree in autumn

The modest ginkgo
adorns herself in splendor
for All Hallows’ Eve.


NOTES:  All Hallows’ Eve begins the 3-day observance of All Hallows’ Tide, dedicated to remembering the dead, including the saints, martyrs, and faithful departed.

According to current statistics from Open Doors, each month around the world, 322 Christians are killed for their faith,

 

Halloween Haiku

Ginkgo tree in autumn
The modest ginkgo
adorns herself in splendor
for All Hallows’ Eve.


Notes:

Growing up in Missouri, I don’t think I ever saw a ginkgo tree.  Now that I live in Washington state, I wouldn’t say they are common, but they pop up now and then.

Since I first noticed ginkgos, I thought they were exotic and different from other trees.  And, sure enough, the ginkgo biloba is the only living species of its biological family.  All the other ginkgo species are long extinct.

It’s also known as the maidenhair tree.  I’m not sure why, but it is a lovely tree with light green leaves in the summer.  It doesn’t really call attention to itself until the fall, when it turns a vivid gold.

They must be one of the toughest trees to kill.  Six ginkgo trees between 1 and 2 kilometers of the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast of 1945 are recorded to have survived.  While they were charred, they were soon growing and healthy.