I have mixed feelings about this poem. Or perhaps, more accurately, I have changing feelings about this poem.
First of all, I love it. I read it just last month for the first time and loved it immediately.
But then I thought, "No! Wait! I didn't always feel this way about autumn. That final stanza -- the mention of melancholy? I don't feel melancholy at the approach of fall. I love fall!"
So, yeah, what about that? What about the way I always celebrate the onset of autumn with an energetic little happy dance? The way I've used this Gatsby quote on the blog almost every year since I started blogging:
"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon?" cried Daisy, "and the day after that, and the next thirty years?"
"Don't be morbid," Jordan said. "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
I still love that quote (I will never stop loving Gatsby.) I still live that quote -- I continue to wilt every summer (my constitution does not appreciate heat and humidity) and am revived in the fall. Revved up in the fall.
But over the years, apparently, I have come to love summer in a way I didn't used to recognize, or fully appreciate. I couldn't see what summer really gave me. And I think I know now what it is.
In summer, Atticus is home. (And it's not just that he cooks, so stop thinking that right now.) In summer, we amble along, living a relaxed rhythm and reveling in the lack of outside pressures. It doesn't feel like an overstatement to say that we feel like we experience a tiny taste of heaven every summer -- in each other's company, in the way life feels in the summer, together. And I don't want to let that go. The older I get, the more I appreciate my summers with Atticus, and those tiny tastes of a world to come.
Is there some sort of painfully cliched dynamic at work, something about entering the autumn of my life and no longer appreciating the things about autumn that I used to celebrate because I can no longer afford to idealize the downward slope that is inherent in the season?
Maybe. Or maybe I just really, really love my summers with Atticus.
by Mary Jo Salter
How hard it is to take September
straight—not as a harbinger
of something harder.
Merely like suds in the air, cool scent
scrubbed clean of meaning—or innocent
of the cold thing coldly meant.
(Read the whole beautiful, glorious poem here, at The Writer's Almanac.)
The Poetry Friday round up is at Author Amok.