Fall, falling, fallen. That's the way the season Changes its tense in the long-haired maples That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition With the final remaining cardinals) and then Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground. At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance, A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything Changes and moves in the split second between summer's Sprawling past and winter's hard revision, one moment Pulling out of the station according to schedule, Another moment arriving on the next platform. It Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away From their branches and gather slowly at our feet, Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving Around us even as its colorful weather moves us, Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets. And every year there is a brief, startling moment When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air: It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies; It is the changing light of fall falling on us.
From Wild Gratitude by Edward Hirsch Copyright © 1986 by Edward Hirsch. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.