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.