Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the aspect of breath

Autumnal Equinox. Is there a better phrase in all of English? Awe-TUM-nul ECK-win-NOKS. How perfectly iambic! How strong yet welcoming! How lovely the promise of decay on cool winds!

In middle-Alabama here, the temperature stays hot for as long as it darn well pleases. And it usually pleases to well into October with intermittent reprises clear through December. This past week, Fahrenheit had a hundred degree fever for three days. Not cool. Not by a long shot.

But heat, for all of its blister and blare, cannot consume the soul of the season and its promise. When words like crisp and clean will slough-off their quotidian adjectivity, their referral to french fries and dinner plates, respectively, and take on the aspect of breath and suggest the revival of lungs. When north becomes North. Not a direction but a destination where forgotten colors greet us in the huddled forests of Tennessee, along the masterpiece county roads of upstate New York--north north and north--Maine, New Brunswick, so far north that coming back south will still be full of color. Vermont--how secret you keep your treasures. Virginia--how generously you welcome November.

And at last, south south and south. Back to middle-Alabama where, behold, she's relented. Which calls for a light jacket and a warm broth. Which every year it does, but each year by surprise and each year so crisp and clean.

Here is a poem, plucked from my yearling thesis, of which I am very fond and proud. Happy equinox, my friend. May winter come slowly.

Jacket Pockets

Autumn is a time to feel things in our jackets we haven’t felt

For at least a year—

The folded five

And the coffee shop receipt,

The peppermint in plastic

And the crumpled reminder to self—

When, from the warmth of pockets, we hear the crackle

Of a dead leaf

And feel its dusty bones.


  1. Absolutely moved to no words ... thank you for the words, the pictures, and the thought about my favorite season especially since i am in mine.