Early October Snow
It will not stay.
But this morning we wake to pale muslin
stretched across the grass.
The pumpkins, still in the fields, are planets
shrouded by clouds.
The Weber wears a dunce cap
and sits in the corner by the garage
where asters wrap scarves
around their necks to warm their blooms.
The leaves, still soldered to their branches
by a frozen drop of dew, splash
apple and pear paint along the roadsides.
It seems we have glanced out a window
into the near future, mid-December, say,
the black and white photo of winter
carefully laid over the present autumn,
like a morning we pause at the mirror
inspecting the single strand of hair
that overnight has turned to snow.
A Letter in October
Dawn comes later and later now,
and I, who only a month ago
could sit with coffee every morning
watching the light walk down the hill
to the edge of the pond and place
a doe there, shyly drinking,
then see the light step out upon
the water, sowing reflections
to either side—a garden
of trees that grew as if by magic—
now see no more than my face,
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,
startled by time. While I slept,
night in its thick winter jacket
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness
that creaked like a cricket, and turned
the water garden under. I woke,
and at the waiting window found
the curtains open to my open face;
beyond me, darkness. And I,
who only wished to keep looking out,
must now keep looking in.
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Bach and the Sentry
Watching the dark my spirit rose in flood
On that most dearest Prelude of my delight.
The low-lying mist lifted its hood,
The October stars showed nobly in clear night.
When I return, and to real music-making,
And play that Prelude, how will it happen then?
Shall I feel as I felt, a sentry hardly waking,
With a dull sense of No Man's Land again?
Let it finally be Friday, let me drive
downtown before five, park in the one
space left open in front and feed the meter
the exact change it needs. Let me go into the office,
sit and nod, unfold my check on the table
and sign. Let the line not be dotted, let it
be solid. Let it be my name.
Let it be final.
Let me pull into the driveway while
it is still light. It’s well past five and well
into October and they are just about
to change the time. Saturday night
on the local news they’ll remind
us all to Fall Back, but I make it in
under the wire. There is still light.
There is still time.
I am up the back porch steps, under
the awning, my hand on the back door lock
the realtor left on. Let me remember rightly
the numbers he gave me. Let this not be the dream
of the high school locker with the Master Lock
whose combination you forgot or fumbled, turning
too fast, going too far, everything you’d locked up
Let the lock fall open, let me leave it
on the steps for the realtor to pick up.
Let him pull up the flimsy stakes
of the sign in the yard that says I can be bought,
let him drive away. Let no Master
enter through my door.
Let the house be a disaster, I don’t care.
Let the smoke-framed blanks where another
woman’s pictures marked the wall be the story
of how my edges caught fire and the ash at last
let me see where I stood. Let the cracked
kitchen floor make a map to teach me
where not to step, how not to fall through
and break my very own back.
Let the broken window be a way out,
the broken door a way in. Let me go
to the hardware store and buy the tools
to take the chain off the bedroom door,
let me paint the bathroom pink without asking,
walk naked and unafraid through all my rooms.
Let me pick up a broom and sweep
nothing under the rug. Let me sweep it all
into the light. Let me do it. Let there be time.
Let there be light.