I know what John Donne said about autumn and older women
but Elegy IX can't make the end of summer okay,
and neither can pumpkin purée.
Besides, Donne hasn't seen my eye bags
or the veins on the backs of my hands.
If he were hanging around these days,
he'd be making out with a twenty-five year old.
She would use emoticons and have a name like Chastyty.
I wouldn't like her yoga selfies
or her hashtags: #namasteyall. #alltheposes. #strong.
I'll tell you what autumn is like,
it's not recognizing your own face
when you pass it in a store window.
It's mammograms, and colonoscopies,
and Facebook dating ads featuring men
who look like your grandpa.
I bought one of those plastic chin exercisers
because I'm scared my jaw line is going to droop,
and I can't grow a beard to hide it.
Well, I can't grow one yet.
Give that a couple years.
Fall is deceptive.
It flickers whimsy and hope
tracing every edge of the world
in alizarine and gold.
It is brazen and unapologetic,
rattling the earth and shaking free
all that can be shaken.
All mortal flesh sinks down, down,
down like six-pointed ice stars
landing on warm eyelashes,
one second a child,
the next second a lover,
then a speck of dust.
I have fallen a long way,
and there are lines around my mouth to show it.
Yet here is Puck still running about the place,
full of mischief and spinning a breeze that tickles and teases,
while the mayfly folds her little hands.
And creation shouts, "Aha!"
like a woman who looks up from a hospital bed
and sees an angel coming to take her home.
- - -
Art: "Autumn Leaves" by Isaac Levitan (1879)