“The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~ John Muir, from Letters

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Campfire on Benway Lake, Michigan by Deb Nystrom (FCC)

 

“It was autumn, and I was in my father’s
woods building a house out of branches
and the leaves that were falling like
thousands of letters from the sky.” ~ Joyce Sutphen, from “The Book of Hours”

Saturday evening. Cool, 60’s.

Did you know that the ceiling of New York’s Grand Central Terminal is painted with 2,500 stars: “an autumn-night constellation that was originally painted backward and never corrected”? I didn’t.

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Campfire by Rikerstribe (FCC)

When I pulled into the driveway this evening after doing some errands with Brett and Em, Brett opened his car door and immediately said, “It smells like autumn,” and indeed, it did. Brett and I share a deep love of the season, and we both await eagerly that first true scent on the air of damp leaves, woodsmoke, and loam—the unmistakable smell of autumn.

I could have sat outside for hours just to inhale, but alas, I was still hurting far too much as a result of massive trigger point injections on Friday. I suppose they’ve affected me so adversely because it has been too long since my last ones.

Oh well . . .

I’ll just imagine myself in the woods in front of a campfire.

Music by Woodkid, “I Love You” (quintet version)

                   

We Shall Be Released

Every afternoon that autumn
walking across campus
past the conservatory
I heard the soprano
practicing
her voice rising
making its way up the scale
straining to claim each note
weeks of work
of days
growing shorter
darker
storms slamming the campus
the semester staggering
to an end
everyone exhausted
drained
heading out and going home
the campus nearly deserted
but the soprano
still working the scales
when I passed under the trees
the liquidambars on fire
the clouds like great cities
sailing out to sea
and didn’t I ascend
with her
my own weariness
and sorrows
dropping away
didn’t we rise together
her voice straining
wavering
at the top of its range
almost reaching
almost claiming
that high
free-of-the-body
final note

~ Joseph Stroud

“Time goes, you say? Ah, no! alas, time stays, we go.” ~ Henry Austin Dobson

Wilhelm Trübner Der Starnberger See 1911 oil on canvas
“Der Starnberger See” (1911, oil on canvas)
by Wilhelm Trübner

 Two for Tuesday: Autumn

Vincent van Gogh The Stone Bench in the Garden at Saint-Paul Hospital 1889
“The Stone Bench in the Garden at Saint-Paul Hospital” (1889)
by Vincent van Gogh

How To Like It

These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let’s go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let’s pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let’s dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn’t been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let’s go down to the diner and sniff
people’s legs. Let’s stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man’s mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let’s go to sleep. Let’s lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he’ll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he’ll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let’s just go back inside.
Let’s not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing. The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let’s go make a sandwich.
Let’s make the tallest sandwich anyone’s ever seen.
And that’s what they do and that’s where the man’s
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept-
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,

answers to what comes next and how to like it.

~ Stephen Dobyns

                   

Andre Ficus Herbststimmung am Bodensee aquarelle
“Herbststimmung am Bodensee” (aquarelle auf Japan)
by André Ficus

The Attic

It’s September: I’ve moved into town,
into the attic of an old barn—a big open room I reach
by climbing a ladder that rises through a hole in the floor.
The room is long and high, with windows at each end,
a row of skylights that leak rain, and shake
and chatter in the northeast winds. I sleep beneath
the roof’s steep pitch, my mattress flat on the boards,
looking up at the high ceiling, where morning
diffuses downward in grains of bright dust.

This was the old painter’s studio.
The light in those famous canvases is still here
—he couldn’t carry it away with him—
though his paintings took away everything else,
opening space with a stroke of blue or yellow.
I think of his violent loves, the stories
they still tell about him here.
But how quiet and alive his paintings were,
how they quiver with the life not yet realized.

~ Cynthia Huntington

                   

Music by Band of Horses, “Window Blues”

 

“Will wander restlessly when leaves are blowing.” ~ Ted Berrigan, from “Autumn’s Day”

Georgia O'Keeffe My Autumn 1929 oil on canvas
“My Autumn” (1929, oil on canvas)
by Georgia O’Keeffe

                   

All Saints

It’s one day past the Day of the Dead, and this has been
a bad year, six funerals already and not done yet.
But on this blue day of perfect weather, I can’t muster
sadness, for the trees are radiant, the air thick as Karo
warmed in a pan. I have my friend’s last book spread
on the table and a cup of coffee in a white china mug.
All the leaves are ringing, like the tiny bells of God.
My mother, too, is ready to leave. All she wants now
is sugar: penuche fudge, tapioca pudding, pumpkin roll.
She wants to sit in the sun, pull it around her shoulders
like an Orlon sweater, and listen to the birds
in the far-off trees. I want this sweetness to linger
on her tongue, because the days are growing shorter
now, and night comes on, so quickly.

~ Barbara Crooker

                   

Music by Matthew Perryman Jones, “Canción de la Noche”