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This November

Photo by Katherine Kleekmp

Last night I read a Mary Oliver poem and today can viscerally feel the lingering impact of her consideration of what a soul is. As a longtime non-fiction writer, I am awed by what poets accomplish with exactly the same tools in my arsenal: words, punctuation, and a blank page. Occasionally I step outside proven proficiencies to write a poem. My objective is usually to simply say something of isolated importance or particular complexity. Sometimes it just feels good to play with the rhythm, descriptive words and imagery that distinguish poems. Maybe it’s the same impulse that leads birds to sing.

Out for a walk one November day in 2003, I was amazed to see crocuses blooming. In fact I found evidence of all four seasons. It intrigued me because November has always seemed to stand alone: not winter, not fall, not summer or spring. The following poem was an attempt to share that observation.

This November

spring’s lavender flowers bloom among dead brown leaves below green leaves holding to a willow branch like old friends reluctant to part.

Frosty mornings become balmy days become clear, cold, cobalt nights crowded with stars and a restless moon that moves among them with the solitary grace of a lone swan in search of her mate.

November’s crisp air, carries earthy odors, rough and worn, good and used, like old hands.

At day’s end its black and coral skies

sprawl unrestrained and joyous, like the work of a child left alone in an art room.

November the loner, the balladeer

of rich songs colored with promise and tainted with regret, chronicler of the year's life and death, hope and sorrow, loss and gain;

these are November’s gifts

for those who are inspired and healed by change.

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