Autumn; a season of transition.  Leaves turning. Leaves falling. Dense rain. Light rain. October sunshine and October winds.

Nothing quite says “transition” like the month of October. We start out with brisk sunny days and end up with 100-mile an hour winds and sideways rain. Somewhere along the way we watch football games and political debates,  rake leaves, cook some cozy dinners and get ready for shorter days and colder nights.

Autumn isn’t just a season. It’s a recurring part of our year. And its easy to see the correspondence between the seasons of our lives and the life of the seasons.

Autumn is definitely a time for reflection. we’re in the last quarter of our year, and as things wind down we can see the year’s past months from a longer perspective.

I was thinking about all this on a hike to Falls Creek a not long ago. I’ve lost a few friends this year, and several more are doubtful for spring training. It’s all part of what we signed on for when we came into the world but, still, each loss of a friend is a permanent hole in one’s life. Somewhere along the trail I got the idea for this poem.

Autumn on the River

Within each life, the little deaths
The slow tearing from ourselves
of a world in which delight lies somewhere
between boredom and confusion

Deaths of parents, family, pets
and others loved and unloved.
Strength and senses dim
Only habits grow fiercely stronger

Classmates depart. The old house
is destroyed for a new apartment
We struggle to keep what capacity we still hold
to love that which is other than ourselves

Seasons hurry off the stage
Stepping on each other’s heels
In their unseemly haste
to be on their way
To the next best thing

Ahead, the river grumbles
Falls away in soundless mist
Voices from shore are faint
Those inside grow stronger

The pace of leaving quickens
as we round the last bend
No reason to hold back

With so much taken
There’s so little left to lose