Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Aunt Leaf by Mary Oliver

A red-veined Autumn leaf in morning sunlight...


Aunt Leaf

Needing one, I invented her –
the great-great-aunt, dark as hickory
called Shining-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud
or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.

Dear aunt, I’d call into the leaves,
and she’d rise up, like an old log in a pool,
and whisper in a language only the two of us knew
the word that meant follow,

and we’d travel
cheerful as birds
out of the dusty town and into the trees
where she would change us both into something quicker –
two foxes with black feet,
two snakes green as ribbons,
two shimmering fish – – and all day we’d travel.

At day’s end she’d leave me back at my own door
with the rest of my family,
who were kind, but solid as wood
and rarely wandered. While she,
old twist of feathers and birch bark,
would walk in circles wide as rain and then
float back

scattering the rags of twilight
on fluttering moth wings;

or she’d slouch from the barn like a gray opossum;
or she’d hang in the milky moonlight
burning like a medallion,
this bone dream, this friend I had to have,
this old woman made out of leaves.

Mary Oliver


Oh, how I miss my crazy/wonderful/beautiful aunts!  They were drunks, one and all, but their lives were too hard for words, so I forgave them because, even as a child, I understood pain and hardship.  I love this glorious Aunt Leaf who I only just discovered on this amazing Fall day in Swamplandia and I'm adopting her, just as Mary Oliver did.

We had a cooler day yesterday...cooler and breezy---a wonder after our long summer of heat and humidity.  My house cat, Catfish, ran out of the open patio door in a rare visit outdoors...and just as he stepped into the yard, a magnificent wind came from wherever wind comes from and shook some leaves from the huge Water Oak tree.  He did the fastest about-face I've ever seen a 25 pound cat do, and ran back into the house with his nub of a tail tucked down.  I realized he didn't know what falling leaves were.  :-)  It was hilarious, bless his kitty heart.


"Magnificent Autumn! He comes not like a pilgrim, clad in russet weeds. He comes not like a hermit, clad in gray. But he comes like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. His crimson scarf is rent.... The wind.... wafts to us the odor of forest leaves, that hang wilted on the dripping branches, or drop into the stream. Their gorgeous tints are gone, as if the autumnal rains had washed them out. Orange, yellow, and scarlet, all are changed to one melancholy russet hue.... There is a melancholy and continual roar in the tops of the tall pines.... It is the funeral anthem of the dying year." ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Mama Zen said...

We've had cool mornings the last couple of days, and it has been glorious! No leaves yet, though.

Marion said...

It's always magic, these first few cool days! Our falling leaves are early here in Louisiana. Thanks for stopping by, MZ. xo

erin said...

i don't think there is one thing i dislike about fall. i'm even partial to the final deathblows, russet and beyond.

we're probably only one week away from the height of autumn colours. it's terribly exciting for me, the slow and excruciating draw to the heights of it, and then the fall to the barrenness of winter which will come. i love it all.

(i kind of feel Longfellow topped Oliver in this one despite the fact that clearly he disagrees with me about fall's awesomeness. but then again i am a little partial to melancholy.)


Kelly said...

Awww, bless his heart - I can just picture it. Sweet Catfish.

I had wonderful aunts and I still miss them! Each unique in her own way.

Wine and Words said...

Fall seems to come so late here. We are just now saying hello to brown, yellow and gold, and goodbye to green. However...the day began with the pitter patter of rain which I had almost thought it ceased to exist! Only lasted a couple hours though. Now we're back to blue :/

Marion said...

Erin, I agree...Longfellow blew me away. Fall makes me happy and sad, too. But I enjoy every minute of my own melancholy as I sit in Autumn sunbeams and watch leaves fall... xo

Marion said...

Kelly, it was soooo funny. Cat TV. I miss my aunts every day. Aunt Mace was like a mother to me. xo

Marion said...

Annie, I hope this is only the beginning of a rainy Autumn for you. Our leaves are just turning, too. Today was much warmer, but not humid. Lots of butterflies, bees and birds around. It's heavenly. xo