Most decidedly, this is a most un-autumn like season. Eighty-five degrees today, what an insult. So, to make myself feel better, I have two autumn poems.
A Twisting Almanac
Like a charcoal colored sea
The night rippled with cold
And I felt on its muscular currents
An unseen armada
Harbingers of the harvest
Of fields bowed to the scythe’s curve
Of twilight’s claws drawn across noontime’s skin
And the equinox arched like a cat across the sky
The wind worried the trees
And from its feral grip
Fell a crisp rain of jagged leaves
That coiled in the wind
And then rose in a helix
Tracing their autumnal DNA,
The cycle of kaleidoscope seasons,
To the distant spark that kindled their beginnings
A broken mosaic
Confused as a shattered puzzle
A pink and cherry bower
That crumbled and nibbled at my feet
Crisp and familiar
Like a cat
My shoes stirred
Beneath the brittle fabric
They pushed at the jagged facets
Of the harvest colored prism
The withered reminders
Of nature’s insistence
That her beauty survives
Even when death
And the photosynthetic drought
Wreaths the ground
With its bloodless garlands
It is at this time of year, the final third, with the three-syllabeled months and early shadows that predict the quickening of its domain, that I feel its presence. Like the tides that feel the pricking of silver hooks in their watery skins, I am pushed and pulled and reminded that now is the time.
During the warm months, it is a jealous, white shadow, hanging in the humid, seductive sky. Its cold women, crescents dangling from their ears, stars melting into their hands, are content to wait.
Until now. And the hooks in my skin tell me also that the wait is over. The moon – call it hunter's, harvest, blood, corn, barley – has returned, its chilled ascendancy sharp and frosted in the evening sky. It shines with a metallic light, a cloth of silver that charms the heavens so much that the nights become longer, so that the lively fabric could be enjoyed that much more.
When the equinox rides high in the sky, climbing the burnished galaxies, the harvests below emerge from the mothering earth and her erupted, buried seeds. I can smell the flavors and colors in the hard, cold air. I shiver with the wet, vermillion leaves, the early shadows and the piercing breezes, heavy with rain and living things.
I see an orange moon brushing darkened fields, a white moon chilling the constellations, a yellow moon that warms autumn's firmament. Autumn carries in her arms the produce of busy populations, leaves that crackle like fire, grains that are woven into loaves of bread. She wears bracelets and ropes of pearls, but only a single pearl rests on her brow – a symbol of her most perfect jewel.
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There is a time of year when growing things become weary of their summer fabrics. They flinch in the winds returning from a cooling migration through distant climates. They shed their pastels and charts of primary colors – shrugging them to the ground like discarded cloaks. They then shrivel and pale in the thick, golden sun and shiver in the white stare of the harvest moon.
Trees have spent the year bored with their chlorophyll sameness. Some are condemned to keep the same color throughout the year – their leaves either pins and needs, or viscous green pools: depthless and still. When the third season arrives, their limbs tremble with anger, thinking of their more flamboyant, fortunate cousins.
These are the ones that feel the crackle of color seeping into their veins. And although they fear fire, they flaunt that anxiety, mimicking the flames. They hold the hot, electric leaves like feverish bouquets in the crevices of their arms. They know their enemy well, and are able to reproduce its terrifying heat; their leaves fall to the ground like dying sparks.
And when they have abdicated their crowns of gold and bronze; when the last scarlet ember has fallen away, their branches will be fearsome: silhouettes of broken fingers. Their lost color will swirl about their roots like lava, like an incandescent palatte: licking the ground like a pack of hounds.
This is the fire season, when the trees make their danger beautiful; when they welcome nature's hot embrace, and when the flames will drip from their bodies like sweat.
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