Bio Note: I live in Mays Landing near the Jersey shore. My three most recent books are Still-Water Days, A Prayer the Body Makes (Kelsay Books / Aldrich Press, 2021;2020); and The Resonance Around Us (Mountains and Rivers Press, 2013). I am very tired of hot and humid weather and looking forward to autumn. October is one of my favorite months!
for Back-to-School time Kick through the growing drifts of fallen leaves to separate the red from the yellow. How many of each? If two clouds are drifting in different directions, which one will get there first? Multiply the time of day by the speed of the wind for an accurate map. How many spinning weathervanes know the answer? elementary, those pesky word problems that haunt me still Tally the clouds at sunset when they congregate on the horizon to sink into coral, purple, and finally dark smudges against the night sky. How many drooping sunflowers in that farmer’s field are going to seed under infinite stars? once again I fail to accurately count the beans in a large glass jar Months of pandemic days have melted into lonely nights. What melted them? Will they fall off the edge of the Earth? And so we go on . . . but when and where? distant whistles of a freight train ride the autumn wind
an earlier version of this poem appeared on Facebook
At dusk I drive through wilting fields of sunflowers, their heads nodding toward the dirt, faces gone to seed, petals dropping. These plants are annuals, live on only through their progeny, seeds that germinate into light. Tonight is Halloween, All-Hallows Eve. Hollowed pumpkins grin from dark porches, candles guttering within. Years ago I ghosted the streets, greedy for candy, going house to house, fearing the door I dared not rap on, running breathless to the next. Heavy rain is forecast— thunderstorms late afternoon along with gusty winds tonight as a cold front roars through. Dying sunflowers will be finished off, their spongy stalks collapsing while spirits ride the gusts, faces flickering as lightning strikes the earth and rises up again. And I will answer the door to children of all ages, holding out their sacks for promises of sweetness, a gleaning they will carry home to dump out on the table and savor while they can.
©2021 Penny Harter
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