9.19.2015

September Song

The year is tilting again, spilling days
like this: the steady light, the falling leaves,
the slow decrescendo of cicadas at night
and the ages-old sensation of
wrapping up the world,
days ripe for harvest, days
in quiet transition, days like this.

Out in the fields there are hay bales dreaming silently
and pumpkins stretching under vines;
beneath the highway bridge the Brandywine has dwindled
in low water and will soon swell with the autumn rain,
savoring the thrill of rushing motion before
midwinter comes to still its currents in ice.

In dark, heavy bunches, round grapes
sweeten in the high sun, waiting for workers in
dust-stained denim, in canvas gloves and
sunbrowned skin, to strip them from the trellises
and haul them to crush,

while storefronts wear glittering foliage
in manufactured colors,
cheap reflections of the glowing forests
that will be practicing their horizontal symmetry:
the trees will blossom earth and clay
into the sky, then discard drapery
altogether, a bared network
of tangling limbs both above and below,

and I will listen to the geese crying southward—
a cry for the cold wind that carries them
far from here, a cry for the withered grass
and the naked ground, for the going away
of everything in all the years
that have been lost.

Kitchen tables, soon, cradle baskets of apples
and hard-shelled winter squash, sweet potatoes
and sweet corn, the long summer’s bounty,
a rejoicing in life that in its dying
gives life again. Sour walnut-fruits will drop
blackened from the walnut tree;
bush-tailed squirrels will grow fat
within its branches.

For now, before my bones remember
how to shiver, before the dead leaves settle in
the sidewalk cracks and overflow
the storm drains, there are days like this,
my windowsill like gold every morning
and afternoons that tilt, spilling late-day light
across your face, like the sky itself
had followed where my heart would turn
and found its way home.