Gelb die Stoppelfelder
und der Herbst beginnt!
As Autumn arrives I remember the lovely poem my mother recites for the occasion.
She is in her 90’s now. In perfect health – her mind is clear – She tells me that life is good.
She has lived much longer than she every dreamed and treats each day like a precious gift. Her only sadness is that her children live too far away. Of five, not one of them nearby!
This morning, as I look out over the river, I see flood waters swell the Mississippi still.
For two weeks now, the small river towns have braced themselves for the approaching mayhem. Nearby, our towns were lucky this year, and other than a flooded basement here or there, they were spared.
Early morning brings the sun rising from behind the woods, illuminating the river as it flows heavily to our South. Even from high up on the bluffs I see the water murky with runoff and mud. It is darker than its usual self and flows more heavily toward the sea.
On a day like this my heart is heavy with the burden of remembrance and poetry speaks to me.
I see the chain of women leading from the shrouded past to this house on its lofty perch, high on the bluffs. The one I loved most, my mother’s mother, visits often… her shadow follows me through the quiet house. The dogs are calm and settle softly at my feet. They are no stranger to the spirit world and know when spirits are nearby.
My mother tells me: “She too will come after her time has passed.”
I laugh and doubt it – for she loves life too much – and I know her too well.
Here is a poem I’d like to share with you. A poem that speaks of a mother’s love… of the unbroken chain leading back into the mist… a celebration of times past… a promise of moments yet to come:
My Mother’s Pears
Plump, green-gold, Worcester’s pride,
transported through autumn skies,
in a box marked HANDLE WITH CARE
sleep eighteen Bartlett pears,
hand-picked and polished and packed
for deposit at my door,
each in its crinkled nest
with a stub of stem attached
and a single bright leaf like a flag.
A smaller than usual crop,
but still enough to share with me,
as always at harvest time.
Those strangers are my friends
whose kindness blesses the house
my mother built at the edge of town
beyond the last trolley-stop
when the century was young, and she
proposed, for her children’s sake,
to marry again, not knowing how soon
the windows would grow dark
and the velvet drapes come down.
Rubble accumulates in the yard,
workmen are hammering on the roof,
I am standing knee-deep in dirt
with a shovel in my hand.
Mother has wrapped a kerchief round her head,
her glasses glint in the sun.
When my sisters appear on the scene,
gangly and softly tittering,
she waves them back into the house
to fetch us pails of water,
and they skip from our sight
in their matching middy blouses.
I summon up all my strength
to set the pear tree in the ground,
unwind the burlap shroud.
It is taller than I. “Make room
for the roots!” my mother cries,
“Dig the hole deeper.”
by Stanley Kunitz
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