For Fall

The ripe, the golden month has come again…

                                     — Thomas Wolfe

October. Crisp evenings. Bonfires. The brilliant blaze of autumn leaves.

Here in Florida, not so much. Summer will soon be over, and hurricane and love bug season will have passed. It may still be hot here, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the same season of pumpkin spice in our lattes, store bought chrysanthemums, and on Halloween night, trick-or-treaters who will be wearing sandals instead of jackets.

Growing up in Virginia, fall was the best. Our apple and pear trees left fruit on the ground, a sharp, melancholy scent that drew bees. The days grew shorter, the light, softer. Of course, there were the shimmering valleys of the Shenandoah, but I was lucky enough to have a sugar maple right outside of my bedroom window. I could hear its leaves rustle, watch them spill over into the most riotous of reds– the brief and collective lifeblood of summer easing into the wind. 

I’ve included an autumn poem I wrote which was inspired from a news headline some years ago.

With that said, here’s to this tilt of hemisphere. To all things pungent in their skins. To the thistled over and the goosed downed and the cindered. To patterns of migration. To surfaces gone stark enough to echo. Here’s to “Fall…begging us to dance and sing and write with just the same drama and blaze.” (Shauna Niequest)

Family Lost in a Corn Maze

It wasn’t till they noticed the twitching

shadows had eclipsed their path that they began

to worry. Tromping through the split

crop in spirals that had no point

of origination, no flailing ends

from which to exit into the stubbled pasture

where they’d started, where

surely someone would be

shouting for them. Here.

We’re over here. Horizonless,

they wished for

the north star amid constellations

kerneled in silk and shuck. Stalks

so dense they could stifle a scream.

Pumpkins and straw bales,

(sometimes the same ones)

rendered into cubes and spheres

by the fading light & artfully arranged

against the random splay

of convex and converse, this quiet

nuance of peeve to panic. Moon,

the gleam of a dull-bladed sickle.

They could eat the corn if they got hungry

enough, fold the stems to the ground,

trample a plea across this kindling-dry

labyrinth stoked with straw bodies.

But when the children began to cry,

the walls tightened and hissed, admonishing:

Shhh…shh, my darlings, remember this—

that echo you hear is just a circle

opening wider; nothing’s ghosting—

just the dark gulp of soil, where your words lie

smothered whole and buried in syllables.