October

I love the month of October. I love the high-blue-beautiful-sky days and the slower, lower, gray sky days. October is really the only month of fall we get in the Northwest — after that it’s pretty much just rainy winter. October, when we get our brief glimpse of trees turning colors. October, with its way of reveling in transition. October, cold at night but still mild enough during the day to affect whatever you were planning on doing not at all. October, still with some thin sun left for us.

“October” is a not-uncommon poem title. “October” by Bill Berkson has a nice take on the manifold nature of the month. I like the just slightly surreal quality of the images, they’re just slightly turned from dead-on (“warm / and loving like a death grip on a willing knee” and “snow bleeds softly from her shoes,” etc.).

And Jacob Polley’s “October” has a beautiful distinction between a day time blue sky contrasted with that “bluer home-time dark.” It’s a lovely meditation on moons. So many poems written about the moon but I can’t get enough of them.  There’s a lot of nice, tight language in Polley’s “October,” with the tides of leaves, and the play on ‘moonstruck.’

A Letter in October” by Ted Kooser is also a nicely put-together evocation of October. I especially like this image, starting with the doe he watched in summer —

night in its thick winter jacket
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness
that creaked like a cricket, and turned

the water garden under.

and I even like the ending, though I read it the first time thinking I wouldn’t because it’s so heavily image-as-statement, but I find I do like it, because October is introspective, and windows do start to function differently, a house is more enclosing and lonely in October.

October also does “Make us believers” as David Baker’s “Neighbors in October” has it. Maybe “bagging gold for the cold days to come” is a bit too much, but the sound of it redeems whatever annoys me in overdone sense.

October” by Don Thompson is a vivid list of quiet images. The torn-up letter image in the last line is just beautiful. And I love “scraps” as the end word of a poem. It’s a single syllable but takes so long to say, all the different sounds involved in bringing that one word to a close, “scraps.”

And I think, now that I’ve read it, that Thompson’s line, “when wildflowers  / would come right up to your hand  / as if they were tame,” is what I shall think of whenever I see a field of wildflowers in future. Months and months from now, when it’s spring again.

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