Autumn Song

Nov Fog

Pale and threaded,
the needles nest in rough patches
releasing the scent, resinous
of pine forests
and her true home.

Tall trees stand
in her dreams, waking
and sleeping. I brush
the leaves from her hair.

Gathering fog,
I nest my heart in clouds,
its hollow sound echoing
with the song of autumn
and loss.

(This is a repost of a poem written last fall)

Storing up the Scents

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Wresting the darkness from my thoughts,
I release it to the morning shadows
under the fragrant cedar boughs,
dripping with rain and cloud.

Storing up these scents
of honeysuckle and sweet grass,
that fishy watery smell
when the wind is off the cove,
the resinous incense of cedar-

I catalogue them in my book of memory,
tacked down neatly
with those tiny black triangles
that cascade
from the pages of old photo albums.

So when I grow restless with the sea breeze-
its salted scent of sun on my skin-
I will open my book
and release my memories
of hill and hollow.

Dove Season

dove

The first of September has always been the opening of dove season in Texas. So all of my young life, that week before was the time Daddy got his shotguns out to clean and rummaged around to pull his hunting vests out of the closet. And many times it meant heading to my grandparents in Waco for the weekend.
Daddy, his dad, my Pampa, and maybe an uncle or cousin, and my brothers (when they were old enough) would wake and head out in the dark of the morning to the leases – property where they had permission to hunt. I imagine they would begin their day at a truck stop or small cafe for a big breakfast, stock up on vienna sausages and saltines for lunch – the beer and cokes were already in the coolers-and then head down a dusty dirt road to a likely spot to start the day.
The dogs would be let out of the cages or the trunks of the cars, given a drink and turned loose to scent the birds. And they would find them.
Dove are ground feeders, so the best leases were grain fields with stock ponds, where there would be plenty of food and water. And doves make a whistling sound as they rise up from the ground. The sound of their wings, loud and furious, as the dogs startled them from their hiding places.
And so the hunt would begin.
It would be dark thirty, as we say in our family, before the sweaty and dusty hunters would be back from their day. And I loved that smell (I know its an odd thing to love) the dust and sweat, the smell of stale beer and cigarettes, the heavy canvas bags, the dead birds, the blood. I would sit on the concrete steps and watch the tiny feathers float in the air as the men cleaned the birds.
Mom and Mamma, my grandmother, would always do the final cleaning, trying to get the very last piece of birdshot out of the meat (though most of the time somebody would bite down on a tiny piece of lead!)
Then it was time to start the cooking. The birds were pan fried with just salt and pepper and a dusting of flour. Mashed potatoes, cream gravy, biscuits and fruit salad rounded out the feast.
On a good hunting day, everyone would get their fill of dove – with the hearts a choice treat. It was a special time for our family.

I guess I am telling you this story because its that time of year and I miss my dad and that sense of belonging in that particular autumn ritual of our family.

And the dove are feeding in my yard.

Here is a poem I wrote years ago about –

Dove Season

My people were dog people.
Hunting dogs, mostly,
Shorthaired pointers, lemon and red,
With royal names, Duchess and Princess-
English setters, liver and white,
Each successor named Zip.

September was dove season-
Guns would be cleaned,
Trips to the leases planned.
Daddy and PamPa, with uncles and brothers in tow,
Leave in the dark morning
With dogs, guns and coolers in the trunk.

Late afternoon in the deepening dusk,
The hunters arrive home
Smelling of fields and gunpowder and beer.
Small still birds spill from canvas bags,
Tiny feathers and the scent of blood
Float in the air–
A pitying of dove.

(revision)

East Wind

October evening 2

An unexpected change-
a wind from the east
bringing the scent of lake
and sweet grass
and summers ending.

The meadow grasses ripen
golden tassels of seed
sway in the breeze,
bowing to the west
and the hunger
of summers waning
and tiny finches.

August, the month of lengthening shadows
and eastern winds,
the month of fields
golden and heavy with harvest.
August,
the month of summers waning
and all that entails.

Sitting on the porch
as the eastern wind
rings through the old chimes
a new tune,
I find myself singing
in harmony with the changing winds.

(revision)

I lie awake

Autumn on the lake

I lie awake-
bits of remembered melody
drift in the morning breeze,
old hymns of redemption
and loss.

I lie awake-
whispers of ghosts and angels
walking the deep green forested paths.
Across the water I hear their murmuring,
I wait for the fall.

I lie awake-
scent filled breeze
brings the smell of ripened grain,
sweet grass and damp leaf mold.
I wait for the season’s change.

I lie awake-
a fallow field
after the year of jubilee-
debts forgiven and begging no longer-
I wait for the autumn rains.

the beginning of farewell

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For so many years,
loving this land
of steep rocky ridges
and deep green ferned hollows,
the longing now
is for the salt drenched air
of the ocean
and tidal time.

I am leaving you,
Beloved,
your rivers/deep green
hollows/cool
crimson leaf/sunset.
I am almost gone
bitter wind/ice
birdsong/moonrise.

Slowly I untangle my heart
from this place,
making room
for the sea
and sky.

bob boat 3 2016