A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn.
The sky was hung with various shades of gray,
and mists hovered about the distant mountains
– a melancholy nature.
Every landscape is,
as it were,
a state of the soul,
and whoever penetrates into both
is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail.
~Henri Frederic Amiel
What is melancholy
at first glance
when studied up close
in the right light.
It can’t be all sadness~
there is solace in knowing
the landscape and I share
~a state of the soul~
an inner world of tears
nevertheless forever illuminated.
And when the Sun comes out,
After this Rain shall stop,
A wondrous Light will fill
Each dark, round drop…
~William Henry Davies from “The Rain”
I wouldn’t mind mud in August, just once, to see what is brown become lush and green overnight.
How sweet it would be to see copious tears spilling unchecked from a shrouded heaven.
Instead I must settle for one morning of northwest drizzle. An emerging sun illuminates these perfect round spheres with wondrous light as they roll off leaves and petals to huddle puddled together in community on the ground, only to evaporate by mid-day.
However, the wait for rain is never too long in this land of mush and mud ten months out of the year.
Rain will come sooner than I can imagine; soon again I will see a glistening crystalline reflection of the universe in a droplet.
The Living Water is always undimmed, its taste ambrosial.
Let us go in; the fog is rising…
~Emily Dickinson, her last words
I have watched the dying
in their last hours:
often they see what I cannot,
listen to what I do not hear,
stretch their arms overhead
as fingers extend and grasp
to touch what is beyond my reach.
I watch and wonder how it is
to reverse the journey that brought us here
from the fog of amnion.
The mist of living lifts.
We will enter a place
unsurpassed in brilliance and clarity;
the mystery of what lies beyond solved
only by going back in,
welcomed to return to where we started.
A waning November moon reluctantly rose,
dimming from the full globe of the night before.
I drive a darkening country road, white lines sweeping past,
aware of advancing frost in the evening haze,
anxious to return home to familiar warmth and light.
Nearing a county road corner, slowing to a stop,
I glanced aside where
a lonely rural cemetery sits expectant.
Through open iron gates and tenebrous headstones,
there in the middle path, incongruous,
car’s headlights beamed bright.
I puzzled, thinking:
lovers or vandals would seek inky cover of night.
Instead, these lights focused on one soul alone,
a hand resting heavily on a stone, head bowed in prayer.
This stark moment of solitary sorrow,
a visible grieving of a heart
illuminated by twin beams.
This benediction of mourning
as light pierced the blackness;
gentle fingertips traced
the engraved letters of a beloved name.
as uneasy witness, I pull away
to drive deeper into the night,
struggling to see despite
my eyes’ thickening mist.
Angel of Grief, Stanford University Mausoleum
There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.
We are given the option to notice
We are given reason to rejoice
We are given a rain-bowed promise to witness
So why ever not?
Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Let fall your shadows on the sundials,
upon the fields let loose your winds.
Command the last fruits to be full;
give them just two more southern days,
Press them to completion, and chase the last
sweetness into the heavy wine.
Who has no house now – he will never build.
Whoever is alone now, long will so remain;
will stay awake, and read, and write long letters
and wander the alleys up and down,
restless, as the leaves are drifting.
~Rainer Maria Rilke “Autumn Day”
This sadness that fall brings
is less about the ending of a long hot dry summer
and more about deepening shadows,
the fullness of harvest,
the drifting and dying to self.
I am misty in memories
of children dressed for school
eating around a full kitchen table,
of chores done hurriedly on frosty mornings,
of afternoons darkening too early
from drizzly clouds,
of nights under heavy comforters.
Lord, it is time. Too soon, too soon.
Help ready me.
The air was soft, the ground still cold.
In the dull pasture where I strolled
Was something I could not believe.
Dead grass appeared to slide and heave,
Though still too frozen-flat to stir,
And rocks to twitch and all to blur.
What was this rippling of the land?
Was matter getting out of hand
And making free with natural law,
I stopped and blinked, and then I saw
A fact as eerie as a dream.
There was a subtle flood of steam
Moving upon the face of things.
It came from standing pools and springs
And what of snow was still around;
It came of winter’s giving ground
So that the freeze was coming out,
As when a set mind, blessed by doubt,
Relaxes into mother-wit.
Flowers, I said, will come of it.
~Richard Wilbur “April 5, 1974”
As the ground softens, so do I.
Somehow winter freeze was comforting
as nothing appeared to change,
so neither did I,
staying stolid and fixed.
But now the fixed is flexing,
steaming in its labor,
and so must I,