Two Autumn Poems

Goldenrod big- 1024px-Field-of-goldenrod-flowers
Autumn Poem of Innocence

Goldenrod laughs in the wind
Tosses back its yellow hair

Flame-colored maple
Leaves dancing in the wind
Swirl and bow and swirl again

Cloudless blue sky
Bright autumn sun

Cheery pumpkins grace our doorsteps
Cornears unfurl colorful seeds

 

Photo by Nicole Gordine, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Nicole Gordine, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Eastern Grey Squirrel, photo by BirdPhotos.com, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Eastern Grey Squirrel, photo by BirdPhotos.com, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Autumn Poem of Experience

Soon bright pumpkins squirrels will ravage
Corn kernels scatter
Bare cobs leave
Broken rinds
Remains of furry ones’ feast.
(Squirrels disdain to do their dishes)

Rain squalls pound goldenrods’ hair
Branches hurl
Trees uproot.

Will the Monarch grace us?
Or is its beauty vanished,
Vanquished,
Bleared, smeared by human greed?

Yet the seasons cycle on
Dead leaves go to the compost bin
Life begins anew

Monarch Butterfly- BBGMonarchButterflyWings

I want to thank fellow blogger Jeff (StuffJeffReads) for keeping William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience in the forefront of my mind this past year. Once I realized the dichotomy of innocence/experience was the perfect way to organize the two initial images—the goldenrod and the Monarch butterfly—the rest of the poetic diptych soon fell into place. “Bleared, smeared” obviously echoes Gerard Manley Hopkin’s line in “God’s Grandeur,” just as “Will the Monarch grace us?” echoes T.S. Eliot’s “Will the sunflower turn to us,” in “Burnt Norton.”

Squirrels vs Pumpkins

Eastern Grey Squirrel, photo by BirdPhotos.com, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Eastern Grey Squirrel, photo by BirdPhotos.com, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Squirrels are the Coyote of the East. In American Indian folklore, Coyote is the ultimate Trickster, a role that squirrels fulfill quite well.

For all their tricksy ways, I still like the little guys. I love watching them leap across the grass or road, graceful arcs of brown-gray fur, scrambling up a tree to swing in the branches and chatter down at anyone below, North America’s own little monkey. Chasing one another round and round a thickly trunked tree, tails fluttering; racing over telephone wires, branches, and gutters to traverse a block or more without ever touching the ground, a high-wire act free for the watching.

But Squirrel the Trickster likes to eat flower bulbs, chew his way into your attic, and—the worst offense of all—devour our decorative pumpkins.

I love celebrating the seasons, and once we had our own single house, with a big, lovely porch instead of a stoop, I couldn’t wait to decorate. The moment fall arrived, I hurried to the farmers’ market, where I procured pumpkins and colorful corn, eager to welcome the season.

Photo by Nicole Gordine, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Nicole Gordine, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

But, alas, in a scant few days, the corn was devoured, nothing left of the colorful bundles but mere cobs and stalks. The pumpkins had teeth marks, and with each passing day, the poor things suffered more and more, until at last they bore huge, gaping wounds—a gory sight truly worthy of Halloween.

Yet all our neighbors still had pumpkins, whole and plump, unblemished by any rodentary predation. What were we doing wrong? Could the squirrels sense my liberal, animal-loving, bleeding heart? Did they know they could make war on our pumpkins and fear no reprisals?

Years have passed since that first fall in our house, and now I’ve finally given up on the corn and the pumpkins, not without a twinge of regret. But maybe next year I’ll try again. I know there are ecologically sound rodent repellents (or would they repel us, too? To say nothing of the neighbors, the mailman, friends we might have over….) Still, something to think about.

Meanwhile the squirrels continue to chatter from above.

Laughing at us, I’m sure.

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