"Home for Thanksgiving" Currier and Ives Print of a painting by George Currie, 1867
IN BLACKWATER WOODS
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
"In Blackwater Woods" by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive. © Back Bay Books, 1983.
A LONG AND GRACIOUS FALL
A long and gracious fall this year.
The leaves are down. Gardens: emptied,
manured, tilled, smooth, and waiting.
Mower and tiller serviced and put away.
Smoker put away, as is the summer table.
Prayer flags, windsocks and their poles: down.
Twenty-foot homemade badminton poles,
peace flag at the top of one, store-bought net—
all down and put away for another year. No more
outdoor summer chores.
Fall planting — peonies and tiger lilies — done.
Summer flower stalks removed, beds mulched,
a blanket for the cold. Fall pruning done.
Woodshed roof hammered down and sealed again.
Cellar closed. Drive staked and flagged so the
snowplow knows where to go.
What else is there to do? Finally, for once, we are ready
for the snow. Ready now to come inside. Time now for
words and music, poems and shakuhachi. Time now
to light some incense, sit and stare at candlelight.
"A Long and Gracious Fall" by David Budbill, from Happy Life. © Copper Canyon Press, 2011.
A PRAYER AMONG FRIENDS
Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn't ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.
"A Prayer among Friends" by John Daniel, from Of Earth. © Lost Horse Press, 2012.