“Still Life” by Carl Dennis
Now’s a good time, before the night comes on,
To praise the loyalty of the vase of flowers
Gracing the parlor table, and the bowl of oranges,
And the book with freckled pages resting on the tablecloth.
To remark how these items aren’t conspiring
To pack their bags and move to a place
Where stillness appears to more advantage.
No plan for a heaven above, beyond, or within,
Whose ever-blooming bushes are rustling
In a sea breeze at this very moment.
These things are focusing all their attention
On holding fast as time washes around them.
The flowers in the vase won’t come again.
The page of the book beside it, the edge turned down,
Will never be read again for the first time.
The light from the window’s angled.
The sun’s moving on. That’s why the people
Who live in the house are missing.
They’re all outside enjoying the light that’s left them.
Lucky for them to find when they return
These silent things just as they were.
Night’s coming on and they haven’t been frightened off.
They haven’t once dreamed of going anywhere.
On this first day of October, I pause at these September photographs, the last gifts of my Summer garden. The sun is moving on here in the North Country, where the sun dips away into the horizon at an unsettlingly early hour by the day.
I find myself holding fast to the season past: the stray flower still in bloom, the rosemary bush straining to keep going. And then my eye catches the sumac trees here and there on our pasture lines, crimson now. The tree under which I usually park at the grocery store is beginning to look like a ripening apple – less green than shades of almost red. The maple tree in our front yard shows signs of gold. And the hostas have lost that last violet bloom – they hang their heads now, spent and ready for winter’s rest. I understand that, I feel the same way.
I love summer, but every season has its gifts, and I am forward looking to what Fall offers.