Hymn for the Autumnal Equinox

Hymn for the Autumnal Equinox


Fade into dream, you memories of light,
you haze of lazy days and dusk prolonged.
Parliaments of owls meet only at night,
and rarely do they judge a fieldmouse wronged
who was waked to serve supper to such lords.
Cobbled dawn harlequined Sun and shadow;
noonday warmed pond and lifted osprey wings.
Now frogs litter the river’s drying fords,
and the red eft slows. Below brown meadow,
tree swallow keeps good table — rarely sings.

Leaf by red leaf, trees shift their heraldry,
relinquishing long allegiance to Green
in favor of Red. Even chickadee
whose vagabond life trims him hard and lean,
who garrets himself in small, warm places
makes small concessions to revolution:
new layers of armor to shield from cold,
and lengthy stake-outs of hostile faces,
fisher and weasel, fiends of evolution,
who revel in night’s coming, and grow bold.

Goldenrod bends down, pokeberries purple;
both lay out feasts for tanager and thrush.
Witch hazel remains pliant and supple,
flicker and towhee depart in a rush.
Birds of mismatched feather flock together
wherever food lays scares or time be short;
they direct one eye wide for fur and teeth,
while the second keeps watch on the weather…
guessing first snowfall is favorite new sport,
since instinct deems autumn both sweet and brief.

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