So I'm trying to catch up on home chores this week, which mostly means that I'm ripping plants out of my garden. Gone are the green beans, the sunflowers, the cucumbers. I've torn out last season's strawberries. I've harvested the remaining carrots, beets, peppers, and radishes; and this afternoon I'll start to freeze chard.
Last night, on our way home from a soccer game, the boy and I exulted in the sky . . . on our left a rainbow, on our right a swirling riot of orange and purple, mirrored in the quiet quiver of Cambridge Pond.
In her poem "The Three Susans," Jane Kenyon writes of early autumn, ending with a shift to sky and shadow--
The sun drops low over the pond.--which reminds me of my own poem, "Protestant Cemetery"--
Long shadows move out from the stones,
and a chill rises from the moss,
prompt as a deacon. And at Keats's grave
in the Protestant cemetery in Rome
it is already night,
and wild cats are stalking in the moat.
Dying, you came staggering to Rome to live,I'd never read Kenyon's poem at the time I wrote mine. Yet despite the differences--autumn and spring, sunset and noon, clutter and loneliness--we saw something mirrored.
choking on black phlegm and gore,
dim eyes fixed on a gaudy sky.
And left behind your tired epitaph.
Nothing we make will matter.
Here it idles, scratched into the mossy
opalescent damp, embroidered with a passel
of lament you didn’t want to hear.
But too little is never enough for our people,
once we’ve been jolted to love;
and I know baby Severn’s father loved you,
dragging his nursemaid bones
down to the city limits sixty years later,
waiting out Judgment Day with you
and his child in arms, under the noon
jangle of a dozen Holy Roman church bells,
trams hissing to a stop, digger whistling an unknown
tune, my friend crossing herself, tendering
a muttered prayer for her cancer-mangled breast.
I’d light a candle, my brothers, if that were our way.