Back when I was in graduate school in Western Massachusetts, fall was the loveliest time. I realized that when I was studying something I loved, returning to school felt great. And autumn in Western Mass came in like a wildfire, all the trees in flames. I remember walking around Northampton’s cemeteries and fields looking at all the life–pumpkins! By the hundreds!–and the death–leaves losing their pigment, landing on the ground. The days were warm and the nights, deliciously crisp–like an apple (more life). That pull between two worlds fueled me and all I wanted to do was write. For many years, fall was the most productive time of my writing life.
These days, I live in Northern California, where fall’s idea of change is that the fog is a little more absent and the air is very dry. Later in the season we might get a colorful leaf or two, if we’re lucky. And now I have a kid, and fall means packing lunches and figuring out aftercare and new clothes and new friendships and new beginnings. For the second or third year in a row, I am not feeling inspired and productive; I’m feeling quite blah. Every morning I wake craving that New England crispness, a vision of leaves, that lovely stretch of time between my birthday, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, before winter sets in (don’t even get me started on winter in Northern California). And I get…sunshine? No discernible change at all?
And so, herewith, is a poem for today. It’s a love poem, for fall, written during one of those seasons when all I could do was write. Nostalgic, maybe? Today, yes. I hope you enjoy it.
(Side note: does anyone know how to make WordPress format poetry? This should be in couplets.)
TELL ME EVERYTHING
I would grasp your shoulders like a yoke
and ride you into the start of something.
How would it be to feel so useful?
And write a short book about the time
you broke your collarbone in three places:
your eyes on morphine green, unafraid, almost unseeing.
I think I’ll make up some words today, one to describe
yellow and orange and red trees in fog from the bus window,
one to replace lonesome,
one for mornings I hate to get up but do so
knowing it’s what humans do when the world’s a-light,
and love’s a thousand miles in the wrong direction.
© Susie Meserve 2013