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I always relish the turn to autumn each year–it has remained my favorite season unabated through half a century.
And yet, as Steve’s piece yesterday so plaintively examined, new seasons bring new losses. Or said another way: maybe as someone in the autumn of life, I’m beginning to feel those losses differently. It puts me in mind of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “Spring and Fall,” that begins by chronicling the sadness a young girl feels for the leaves falling, but concludes with the devastating claim that the object of our mourning is really our own mortality.
But still–autumn has its own work, even if some of it is hard to face. Karina Borowicz’ poem (a new discovery for me) captures that experience exquisitely. And yet, like Margaret of Hopkins’ poem, Borowicz’s speaker also knows that the cost of compost is the eternal price of future growth, of the spring to come.
September Tomatoes By Karina Borowicz The whiskey stink of rot has settled in the garden, and a burst of fruit flies rises when I touch the dying tomato plants. Still, the claws of tiny yellow blossoms flail in the air as I pull the vines up by the roots and toss them in the compost. It feels cruel. Something in me isn’t ready to let go of summer so easily. To destroy what I’ve carefully cultivated all these months. Those pale flowers might still have time to fruit. My great-grandmother sang with the girls of her village as they pulled the flax. Songs so old and so tied to the season that the very sound seemed to turn the weather.