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Saturday, September 21, 2013

"The Flame of Autumn"......

is another poem hearkening back to St. John of Cross and St. Theresa of Avila's meditations. Autumn, for many, is a season of cold, loneliness, and a realization of human frailty. I myself have been experiencing these feelings, dealing with allergies, arthritis, teeth extractions, and various personal concerns. Through times of darkness, though, I believe we may also come into a closer relationship with the Light of the World. For John and Theresa, the hardest trials could reveal a mystical love story between humanity and the Divine.

The Flame of Autumn

The dawn chill of autumn
Causing fog at the mouth when we speak
The pale sun
Turning the spider webs to crystal dream-catchers
The corn drying crisp and crunchy on the stalks
Forming a maze for children
The amber hay bales
Surrounded by a haze of particles
The old barns, chipped and decrepit
Like haunted houses on the hill
The heavy mist in the valley
Hiding the trees that turn from gay green to elegant orange
The goldenrod
Holding their blonde heads high in the fields

There is so much life, and yet beneath the surface
The sting of death threatens
The bite in the air suggests it
Piercing clothing to make one shiver
There is a stillness settling over the earth
Like the first or last day in history
The birds’ songs are softer
Like Elfin lays lamenting a fading glory
The color of the leaves is bursting bright
But will soon turn to blood, wither, and fall
The moments seem to crawl by
Like the spread of frost across a window pane
The nights come suddenly, like a thief
Without the summer sun to ward them off
They are heavier now
Like the winter blankets taken from attic chests

My soul is burdened
By an awareness of aloneness
As empty as a jack-o-lantern
With a nightmarish expression of despair
As hollow as the eye-sockets
Of a moldering skull 
As meaningless as the echo
Of cawing crows flying over the pumpkin clusters
I long for fire instead of ice
For understanding instead of confusion
For the embrace of loved ones long gone
Instead of my own arms braced against the cold
But most of all, I long for God

To ask to feel the presence of Him
Is a thing that is known to wound
Agony comes with ecstasy
Even for the saints, who I am certainly not among
Brilliance is blinding and searing
When it pierces of the dark of night
But I would take it, nonetheless
Sink me into fire, plunge me into ice
But do not let me wander alone in shadows
Let us have a place all to ourselves
Where I can lay my head on Your breast
Where I may hear your voice whispering
Out of the gentle breeze, no longer chilling

Let us be lover and beloved in the depth of the night
And let not my own self separate us
For You are the love of loves
The delight of all things, the breath of life
Let me at least tend the wounds
That I caused to receive, as a servant
Let me feel the peace that comes with wholeness
For an instant, to light the winter’s dark
Be the flame of autumn in this changing, chilling world
And in my trembling heart
It is all I need 

"There is so much life, and yet......the sting of death threatens....."


  1. Lovely, but so sad!

    Autumn is Keats' "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness," free of the gasping heat of summer. The hummingbirds juice up on nectar for their flight to Mexico, and the resident birds and squirrels feast on summer grains in preparation for winter.

    It's all good!


  2. Hey, Mack,

    Well, you Texans are just happy to be out of the heat, ha, ha! ;-) For the rest of us "up north", especially for summer babies and allergy sufferers like me, Autumn can be a tad depressing. To each his/her own, I guess!

  3. Beautiful. The spirituality of St. John and St. Teresa is a wealth of inspiration for poetry like this.

  4. True enough, Most Excellent Pearl!

    Happily, this weekend the spouse-person and I are off to Canada, God's second-favorite nation. Maple leaves and cool mornings! Hooray! Oh, wait - that should be "Hooray, eh!"

    Does anyone know of a French-language Church for Mass in the area? (The spouse-person is of the Gallic Persuasion).

    - Mack in Texas

  5. Well, duh, of course I should say WHAT area - Niagara Falls, the Canada side.

  6. "Sink me into fire, plunge me into ice, but do not let me wander alone in shadows."

    I LOVE that line. Sometimes any pain would be better than a lingering feeling of lost-ness. Brilliant thoughts, Pearl!

    A lot of your recent poems seem sad. I do hope you're doing all right. Remember that "in the end, the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach."
    I look forward to talking with you this weekend!

    Your friend,