Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Unleaving

What a drear day! It might as well be “a drizzly November in my soul,” though there are too many leaves for that.

The dog Susquehanna is curled up in her hyper-insulated house. That cats are in ouroboros position. Grackles are hopping across the porch, nabbing pebbles of dog food without much fear—hopping back again and toppling down the steps, beaks wide.

A dank Fall has arrived, though I hoped for Indian Summer. Such lovely poems belong to fall: “Autumn is over the long leaves that love us, / And over the mice in the barley sheaves; / Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us, / And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.” “My Sorrow, when she's here with me, / Thinks these dark days of autumn rain / Are beautiful as days can be; / She loves the bare, the withered tree; / She walks the sodden pasture lane.” Going back a little farther brings on this: “Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? / Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— / While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, / And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue; / Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn / Among the river sallows, borne aloft / Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies.” And then there is the marvelous “Margaret, are you grieving / Over Goldengrove unleaving…” and

And here is one of mine from The Throne of Psyche, a poem about the waning of poetic fire and the waning of the year. It was previously published in one of my very favorite online magazins, Mezzo Cammin.

SELF-PORTRAIT AS DRYAD, NO. 2

November, she is
A silvery-gray torment,
Moon snagged in her claws—

A fortune teller’s
Ball, hurled angrily at night.
Snared, held, asked-of glass

Declares: Snarl of twigs,
The deadwood next to your heart,
Cracks foretelling fall—

No worry. Your root
Taps through stone to the fire core,
Your net captures cloud.

The muse, merciless
Boy, will run to you in spring;
He’ll call for poems

And willy-nilly
Whistle for flower and fruit
Till you’re racked with bloom.

18 comments:

  1. I think I like your poem more than any of the other quotations even.

    Indian summers can be surprising still, we often get beautiful Octobers. Don't give up hope!

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  2. "Till you're racked with bloom," that's marvelous, Marly!

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  3. Dale, thank you! What a delicious sensation it is, too.

    I'm going to have to go by your e-house again. Went by earlier but somehow the rain locked up my computer for a while... But now it is connecting again. Mysterious.

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  4. Lucy,

    Ack, what an alarming compliment! That was Yeats, Frost, Keats, and Hopkins...

    And that's the second alarming compliment today. Must be going to be a better day than it looks!

    Yes, I am hoping for Indian Summer, but it is depressing to have bought 200 fewer gallons of oil than last year (too many children in college!)and then have the house be below 50 by September 15th. I shall have to start arranging the animals around my unhusbanded side.

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  5. Wonderful poem.

    There are easy, inexpensive methods for keeping one's bum (and feet) warm at football games. Suffering unnecessarily is simply not necessary.

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  6. zephyr,

    I threatened to give my daughter a Tardis snuggie for her birthday...

    I am a great bundler-up for games. No doubt I look silly.

    And thanks--glad you liked it.

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  7. Lovely poem!

    I know what you mean about weather. After a belated then too hot summer which ran into September, it very suddenly turned to cold and wet, in time for our visitors too. We resisted turning on the heat or fireplace, just putting on socks and long pants and long sleeved shirts, which always seem so uncomfortable at first. The sunshine and warmth are back again and we too hope for an Indian summer of warm days and cool nights - may yours be so!

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  8. marja-leena,

    I've had a fire in the fireplace twice, and Mike turned on the heat the morning it was below 50. Ridiculous to have heat on by mid-September. I stayed in today and polished on a manuscript...

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  9. toasty feet make all the difference for me (as long as ears are protected). There are thin inserts, with "space age" foil stuff, that work amazingly well when you have to sit in the cold. It comes in cushions you can sit on, too.

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  10. Inserts for your shoes? Like space blankets... I'll have to look for that. Sounds good.

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  11. I miss autumn! Your poem is a lovely contribution to the genre.

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  12. Robbi,

    What I don't like about autumn here is that it leads to 6-8 months with snow, which is too many. Shall never forget getting several feet of the stuff on May 25th...

    Not sure if I'll get to post today. Maybe. Have already been to the orthopedic surgeon and the x-ray department with my youngest (Osgood-Schlauters progressing and not too bad compared to what it was for my young wrestler-footballer-runner-jumper) and have other committments. Busy day.

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  13. Just learned what that disorder you mention is. When you say it is "progressing," do you mean getting worse or better? Is there a cure, or does a person grow out of it?
    My son had to stop pitching because of a problem with his arm that still bothers him, even though he doesn't play baseball anymore. It was sad because he loves the game so much and was so good at it, but with his genes, he could never have been a professional. I am so small and not very strong, though my dad was a natural athlete.

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  14. There are lots of growth plate problems with pitchers, too. Coaches who over-use a pitcher can really get them into trouble. And many other athletes have growth plate problems.

    One knee is much better (there was a time in 2009 when he lay in bed or sat up with ice on his knees when he wasn't out of the house. The other will always be rather protuberant at the base (common among athletes) and has some broken pieces and tearing but the bone will grow and fuse it all together, it seems. Doesn't look bad enough to do anything about it but what we're already doing (ice and motrin.)

    Usually they outgrow the pain and the condition (as bones mature), but sometimes surgery is needed if they still have a lot of pain as adults. Also, if the growth plate is ripped away, there has to be surgery.

    None for us, I am glad to say, at least not so far and, I hope, never.

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  15. My old ones had the foil in them, but can't remember the brand.

    These are very good, also:
    http://www.polarwrap.com

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  16. zephyr,

    Shall take a look at these polar feeties. Thanks.

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  17. The thing I enjoy most about the Autumn is the pleasure it brings to so many.
    Personally, I find it something of Hell. As I do Spring.
    Full summer and Full Winter are reliable and less monstrously changeable to me!

    I shall go sockless in the snow, and wear a t-shirt and light trousers as long as I can, into January/February.
    After that.... I shall shut up shop like a good squirrel and just hibernate - and bleat whenever the mood takes me.

    Fall is a mistake of gigantic proportions. So big that people do not see it : D

    The poetry is most enjoyable.

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  18. I do not think we have proper spring up here in the upstate. I am used to spring being long and complex with many stages and glorious flowers.

    Fall, however, is more complicated here, at least when the leaves have theri perfect weather. I like those years. Other years, not so much. I was born in gloomy November...

    I am not fond of winter after the first few weeks. A taste is sufficient. However, I get a lot of work done in winter.

    Summer I always like, except that sometimes here it resembles fall.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.