08.19.16 The Sturgeon Moon or the Grain Moon has been lighting up the dark outside my bedroom window for weeks. When I went down to the water’s edge to watch it set, the grass was cold and wet, and it was the chilliest morning we’ve had in a long while, after the short but fierce front moved through last night. And, geese are beginning to gather across the sky. Yet, I am reluctant to give in to these hints of Fall, clearly in the air. Sarah remains here with us all through next week, before I drive back to California with her, and the weather forecast is for beautiful late August days and nights. Summer lingers on.
Still, coming back from town this morning, goldenrod have suddenly appeared along the stone steps, overnight, and I had the first wave of that familiar “autumn melancholy” drift over me as I walked down the stairs into the house, knowing the end of another summer is upon us, another season coming to its end. As Jane Kenyon writes, in the middle of these bright days, “why did I cry today”…
Three Songs at the End of Summer
by Jane Kenyon
A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.
Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils.
Across the lake the campers have learned
to water ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”
Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.
Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.
The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.
Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?
A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket …
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.
The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.
I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.
Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.