It’s time for a hodgepodge. How can you follow the importance of one thing to another?
The virus has us all thinking with accompanied anxieties, plural, about the upcoming winter. And if you are where we are in Michigan, that means cold until May. What is the virus like in the freezing cold? I have yet to be told.
However, I should’ve begun with the wonder that is autumn. It all makes me feel honest awe, and at my age, I should be immune. I am not. The way the colors choreograph their appearance is silently orchestral.
Then there was my grandmother. (You met her before if you follow these posts.) Every year we—the family—would head out for a “color tour.” We’d beg her to go along. She would always refuse. Off we’d go, jaws dropping at every turn. On our return, she’d ask how it was, and my sister and I would all but jump around the room exclaiming the dazzle. Mom and Dad would maturely concur. My grandmother, who always sat in “her” chair by the window would turn, point out at all the trees that filled her front yard and quietly say, “Did they look like these?”
And we’re gonna worry about the holidays. How can we have them? They are tradition at its most celebrated.
And November 3. What will happen? What has happened is unconscionable. I started these postings not to argue with 45, but to counter him. I thought four-five months, tops. Frankly, I’m tired. Joe has to let me, if I keep going—kinda up to you—Joe has to enable me to write the sentiment-filled stuff I love to notice.
And if things are serious, I want them to be serious-personal as in the last two days. I’ve worked on poetry with Episcopal priest Rich Frontjes and retired philosophy professor Jim Allis, both of whom compose important, humane poems. I’ve heard and responded to the death of a friend’s father and brother, and I listened to a friend as he told me, somehow, of the death in a car wreck of his friends, a mother and daughter-in-law. Our daughter had a colleague commit suicide yesterday. I am doing the Crop Walk (For me, the Crop Limp?) and I am overwhelmed at the kindness and generosity of so many friends. I write these because I know you are experiencing similar personal experiences and want to give your time and attention to them, not to this virus and certainly no to four more years of gaslighting.
Example: Can you believe the doctor who treated 45 declaring him, what? Safe! 45? Safe??
This doctor took a Hippocratic oath.
That’s enough. Let’s savor the changing of the leaves. Let’s make it a secularly spiritual ritual. let’s all feel like jumping in the leaves, or like my grandmother, just look out the window.
On this autumn afternoon, the light
falls across the last sentence in a letter,
just before the last movement of Brahms’
Fourth Symphony, a recording made more
than 20 years ago, the time when we were
looking for a house to rehabilitate, maybe
take out a wall and let the kitchen open
up into the living room, put in a window
so the morning light could fall across
the bed my wife’s grandmother made
the canopy for, the bed she slept in for
forty years. She was a doctor looking
for a town close enough that we can
drive past where she practiced, imagine
her picking up her violin when there
was time between patients, settle
it under her chin and play, looking
out the window into the same street we
drive down on our way to visit our
daughter in her studio. She creates
dresses, stitches turning into lines,
fabric turning into sculpture hanging
under her skylight, the dresses’ threads
knotted, their edges frayed. When
we knock on her door, she welcomes
us with cups of steaming tea, turns
down the jazz and kisses us. She
is happy in this light and later she
will ask us how we like our new place,
laugh when we begin to tell her all
our plans for tearing out the kitchen,
knocking out a wall so we can see
deep into the wood, along the creek
that twists itself around a pile of rocks
and through the trees. She makes us
dinner as we listen to Miles Davis,
“Birth of the Cool”—I always wonder
why he ended with a vocal, one
that sounds recorded twenty years
before. Its notes are sleepy,
the voices like smoke. At home
the dog and cats are sleeping. We
forgot to leave a light on for them,
but the radio is playing, and when we
get there, they will want to go outside.
The dog will pause for a scratch behind
his ears, his tail wagging as the cats
jump off the couch, hurry out the door,
disappear into the dark.
We’ll tune the radio to a symphony,
watch the moon harvesting
its light through the back window.
Where are the books? Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.
Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.
Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.