Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

This Is How

It’s the chill air, say the scientists,
that allows the nose to delineate
the musky smell of autumn,
not like the warm summer air
that traps and mashes
all the aromatic molecules together.
No, it’s the constricting nature of cold
that lets us pick out the sweet loam
of dried grass and peaty scent of sugars
breaking down in the leaves.
But it’s memory that says,
Isn’t this smell wonderful.
It’s the amygdala that relates it
to the childhood joy
of skipping through gutters of oak leaves
and the adult joy of jumping
in great piles of cottonwood leaves
with my son.
In this golden moment,
I’m every age I’ve ever been in the fall,
and every version of me basks
in low autumn light. This is how
I breathe in the fragrance of death
and decay and moldering,
and think isn’t it wonderful, this life.

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Shifting Purpose

Yesterday, the thing to do
   was to rake the golden leaves
    from the grass and gather them
       into huge untidy piles
  for my husband to pull away.
   Today the invitation is
to not rake the leaves.
   To sit in the grass and feel myself
    folded into an unmanaged beauty.
  The invitation is to admire
     their infinite shades of yellow
   and brown—to notice
how some are speckled,
  some torn, some brittle,
      some still impossibly soft.
   If some part of me
     feels duty bound
  to straighten the world,
she is not here now.
   I want nothing but to sprawl
 in disorder, to feel only delight
      as the wind releases leaves
   from the autumn trees,
want to relish how, with no politic,
the leaves dance to the ground.
  Want to know myself as unruly,
  one who finds joy in the rustling,
one who thrills in the glorious mess.

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When you

Please don’t

the day

a nest

the strands

in your

words, and

squirrel-like, curl

into their

warmth. I

the sweetness

quietly snuggling.

winter, these

of autumn

will nourish

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Perhaps it is the autumn light
that makes the walk up
this familiar old dirt road feel
so lucky, so fortunate? This is how
I want to meet life—as if
there is no way to contain all
the beauty so it leaks out and floods
the world with gold. Simply strolling
up this gravel road, already I
am less whatever I thought I was
and more what an autumn evening
is, something at the edge
of impossible. I want to know
the beauty that comes from
release, the radiance of loving what
is, and with tenderness, letting it go.

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We walked for hours through cliff bands,
past old mines with roofs collapsed.
We sat on a huge flat rock in the middle
of a high alpine cirque rung with green.
The rosehips were fat and softened by frost,
and their skins tasted sweet and bright.
There was snow on the trail. There was gold
in the trees. The sky deepened bluer all day.
And there was one white seed that rode the wind.
I watched it rise and watched it fall again.
Somehow it feels essential to explain
that for that moment, it was everything—

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Memories pile on each other
like leaves in autumn,
each one charged with sweetness
or sorrow or worry or bliss.
Soon, the stack is over my head.
I fall in, the way a child might fall
into the pile—letting gravity take me
with no thought of catching myself
from the fall. What surprises is
that even as I am buried in memories,
I am not crushed by their weight.
Even as I roll in all the feelings they bring,
there is a peace that does not leave,
a peace that stays and asks nothing of me.
I once believed I could only know peace
when there was no tumult, no upheaval.
Now, in the wild chaos of it all,
I feel how peace is also here—
a peace so constant that while I tremble,
while I struggle, it breathes me.

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Just when I believed
autumn would last forever
it didn’t.
Not that I really thought
the gold leaves would stay.
Not that I really believed
the warm days were endless—
but part of me wanted them to be.

And so this cold morning,
driving on ice
when I feel the slip of the wheels
as they lose traction,
the heart resonates
with the skid.

Oh, this lesson
in losing control.
Oh, this remembering
how quickly it all slides by—
the light, the warmth,
the deepening gold,
even this fleeting understanding
of how quickly
it all slides by.

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Spring in Fall

for Suzan

It feels right to walk
through naked trees
with our naked hearts
and our naked hands
and thrill in the sound
of wind in dry grass
and delight in how quickly
the clouds are shredded.

You could say, it’s just a day,
but perhaps a day such as this
spent practicing awe and openness
is what changes everything.
You step out of yourself.
Suddenly, anything could happen.

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Memory of sitting by the river,
you taking my picture,
the leaves around us
already changing—
you were happy that day,
camera in hand,
no hint of sorrow,
no augury of grief.
Oh, that beautiful day.
I fold it in half,
run my finger down the crease,
unfold it, rotate it ninety degrees
and fold it in half again.
In six more steps,
I’ve folded it neatly into a boat.
Someday, perhaps,
I will float it down the river.
Today, I tuck it
into my mind’s back pocket.
When I need to, I touch it,
run my fingers along the folds.
It carries me along
the current.

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            for Jay
We stepped into cool autumnal air
ripe with the red scent of tiny crab apples
and charged with the darkling promise of storm.
We were well-armed with studies and stories
on why we might want to choose awe—
but awe chose us the way gold chooses aspen,
the way love chooses friends,
the way shorter days choose fall,
the way beauty chooses what will die.
And aspen leaves whirled all around us
and caught in our hair, and we knew ourselves
as small essential beings in a wide, astonishing world.
*Hey, friends, just saying that the Original Thinkers Festival program on the Power of Awe was AMAZING!!! If you have never checked out Original Thinkers in Telluride, well, it is great for people who are curious and like to engage in conversations about paradox, science, emotion, the natural world and community. 

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