As bright October’s days fade
into the grays of November,
I give you this one last keepsake,
a glimpse of autumn’s glory,
gifted to us one mid-month day
when all nature sang in celebration.
Save it in your heart for those times
when you are worn and leaning
toward despair as a reminder
that the earth and all that lives
are loved children of the Yes
and held in the splendor of its
unending wisdom and care.
Let me ride in the wind again.
Let me spin and twirl, held fast
by my stem, giddy with joy,
clinging to my branch,
drinking in the sun, dancing
with my fellows one last time.
Tomorrow the sky will be mine.
But today, I will take this last pleasure.
Today I will ride in the wind again.
Today I will twirl and spin.
The autumn leaves washed down
in countless numbers in yesterday’s rain.
But today the sun is shining, and sheaves
of gold still stand along the roadside,
arching above it. The air is warm
for late October, and the leaves
float feather-like when they fall,
as if they were tiny golden birds
set free in this paradise of a day.
I breathe the peace of it as I drive
the country roads, escaping
the tension and strife that cover
the nation, wishing these golden
leaf-birds could fly from shore to shore
and descend on every heart
with their song.
First, select the colors. Choose
the hues that will feed the dreams
of the seeds of the flowers
that will waken in the spring.
Then, gather the ten thousand pieces.
Heap them deep, weaving them together
as you go. Say prayers and sing chants
as you work. Let your words be full
of hope and of thanksgiving. Layer
after layer, lay down your blessings,
that all who sleep beneath this quilt
may be warmed and encouraged
by your love.
The bare branches outnumber the ones
whose leaves still hold on, having given
their all for the season’s grand show.
The stage wears thick layers of their gifts.
The audience has scattered; the players
gather in the wings, deciding on a venue
for an after-show party. From the horizon,
clouds float in, promising drinks for all.
The wind that bears them thunders
with applause and echoes our cries:
“Well Done! Well Done!”
With our breath rising, full or our awe and joy,
autumn again raised the curtain of clouds
to bring us an encore of color. It was more
than we could have asked for, bright scarlet
flags waving in the wind, the epitome of
maple’s brilliant hues. Never give up
on your hopes of one last stretch of glory.
Even when all seems lost, the miraculous
can step out from the wings,
Lest we be mesmerized by autumn’s gold,
she interrupts our dreams with a preview
of days to come, showing us her subtler side,
reminding us that after their boisterous romp,
her children must sleep, after all. Still,
she does not withhold her beauty. Even
though darkness descends, she sings.
In one last burst of grandeur
the trees take their final bow,
knowing that nothing is truly final,
that the seasons roll on and on. But still,
this cycle has come to its close,
and so, in triumph and with joy,
they do their dance of celebration,
for all that has been and is,
so brilliantly, so full of Yes.
As if their first acts weren’t enough
to show the world their joy, the trees
brought on another dance of color,
this one juicy with cirtron, with leaves of lemon
and tangerine and lime, each one fluttering
like wings in the wind, eager to fly. So bright
were they, that we ourselves were lifted,
our spirits soaring with them into the clear
blue autumn sky.
Meanwhile, at the lake, the season’s joy is more subdued.
The flamboyant colors, tempered by the pines, sink
into the waters’ depths, then rise to float in serenity,
the hues deepened and calm. And we breathe them
into our lungs, tasting their peace, and it lingers
in our hearts and in our souls.