Paradigm Shift

Autumn mornings -- when the cool rain is hitting the tin roof and the breezes blow with enough swagger to make the trees bow in admiration -- remind me of when my second daughter was born and after we had held her in our arms for some time we knew exactly what her name would be. Jorah (meaning "autumn rain" in Hebrew.)

I cannot help but reminisce about those summer sunsets (pictured above) when the sweaty warmth stretched late into the day. Those days were full of bold, luminous life. A bountiful garden. Happy hens sauntering. Silly children splashing and running and laughing.

During the summer season, my wife's delicate hands turned, with soil under her nails and calluses here and there from hours of loving toil in the garden -- always walking towards me with a bowl full of color and a mouth cracked open by a proud grin. She mothers the vegetables in her with almost as much attentiveness and love as her own babes.

Now autumn's crisp air awakens us as we feel the seasons shifting. The trees cast all their energy into turning shades of green into glorious reds, yellows, oranges and golds, a celebratory finale before bowing out for a season of slumber.

Last Autumn Song

No, nothing,

she says, that is not God’s, and we approach
a crow ripping the entrails

of a truck-crushed fox, and the crow flees
our wheels, and the wind fills and tests the trees.

She says, I’m afraid I’ve believed
too much,

so we climb out,
throw shut the doors,

balance on tracks, huddle like tongues, like teeth
we chatter, we hum hymns, her purple skirts

go stiff with crusts of first frost, howl
the wind, the train, we embrace, the earth shakes,

boxcars bullet past, day eaten by dusk,
one hundred and sixteen we count, the crow

returns itself to beaky work, we call it Eliphaz.

In the book that broke the reader, she says,
the angel swung a sickle

over the curvy earth, curvy steel, then gathered
the vintage, then pitched it

into the great wine press. A small book, she says,
small and compact as a heart, as a trap.

Jesse Nathan, a Sojourners contributing writer, is an editor at McSweeney’s and author of Dinner, a chapbook of poems (Milk Machine). He lives in San Francisco.

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2010
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