by Larry Palletti
Autumn’s ghost returns
The summery world we have come to know
is about to tuck its head beneath its wing for a well-earned winter nap.
And while the almanacs again gave ample
warning of the autumnal equinox, still it managed – as always – to sneak
up on us like the thief it is.
Autumn, the most bittersweet of the seasons,
will steal from us the boisterous green of summer and its warmth as well.
She will leave us with stark skeletons where once there were trees … silent
graveyards of fields where only last week there were honeybees … dead,
dry stalks where butterflies once danced their hapless ways among riotous
THE EQUINOX takes all – but it brings
us things that no other season deigns to give. Perhaps in her majesty,
Autumn looks upon mere humans with a sense of noblesse oblige, tossing
us little scraps from her table and tiny jewels from her treasure chest.
Autumn steals the olive-green leaves and
grass that Spring had brought forth after a long, hard labor; that Summer
had carefully nurtured through adolescence and into maturity.
But as she damns each leaf with her kiss
of death, Autumn makes sure we notice. Her farewell caress brings forth
an explosive melange of color, as if to plant a brilliant flag on our doorsteps
– in case we had forgot who, in the final analysis, is our master.
Autumn’s banner rises higher than any other.
Disdaining the spittle-flecked rantings of mortals, Autumn comes as she
pleases and goes where she must. And during her tenure, her reign is supreme.
Neither you nor I will stay her hand.
She leaves us scraps, but in those snippets
are the makings of life. Not merely in the organic stuff whose death replenishes
our worn soil … but in the darkly spiritual gleanings left behind as she
harvests our once-lush verdancy.
AUTUMN WILL PLEASE our senses in
a geisha-like cajoling that sets us off-guard. She gives our eyes a gentle
massage, yes, but she will tease our sensitivities in a hundred more subtle
With the sharp tang of burning leaves.
With deliciously cool nights that bear
just a hint of Winter’s inchoate icebox.
With the delicate etchings of her artistic
hand as she marks our windows with frost.
With the far-off trumpetings of geese as
they cut through the heavy air in careless vees.
With the sudden appearance in the eastern
sky of the loveliest of asterisms, the Pleiades. The stars of the Seven
Little Sisters foreshadow the coming of Orion, who will dominate our winter
And across the crystal-clear vault of the
heavens, Autumn will hurl the occasional fiery bolt of lightning: a bolide
that slashes its way through the universe.
These pleasantries addressed and skillfully
accomplished, Autumn will begin to burrow furiously into our brains.
FOR AUTUMN BRINGS with her the ghosts
of mankind’s past. The archetypes raise havoc with minds allowed, for once,
to roam free and unfettered.
Walk in a forest, at night, with
a swollen Hunter’s Moon hanging low on the horizon. But step slowly, carefully!
For there are Things about you, creatures of a time long past, whose intentions
you cannot know. Their susurrations stay just below your ability to hear
them. They whisper – you stop to listen – they go silent, to await your
next halting step.
There are spirits here of the long-ago,
ingrained upon the mind and buried deep in the spider-holes of the brain
where the light of reality never reaches.
Never – until the Autumn moon’s lamp sheds
a slim ray that knifes its way into those dark recesses. The thin beam
triggers a spark that jolts the benighted brain to life. The spark leaps
across synapse; axon speaks to dendrite; tiny particles of electricity
surge to complete a circuit, and another, and yet another – until a fearsome
apparition of a thought makes its way to the subsurface of consciousness.
Try to grasp the thought. You cannot.
Try to pull it, twisting and fighting, to the light of cool observation.
Too soon it will slip away to sink
back into the depths of the brain, back to its dark beginnings. Try to
stop it: you cannot.
Yet it is there. Yet They are there.
Teasing you with the hint, the promise of knowledge that is beyond your
ken, they dance about and laugh at you. Man and his mental banshees? Eve
and her apple? Go ahead, Autumn says. Take a bite.
GHOSTS AND GHOULIES, goblins, withered
crones in pointed hats – these are but the faces we put on the ancient
dreams that haunt our troubled Autumn nights.
In our imaginations, the dead arise from
their fetid graves to visit upon us the wrath of ages past. They too are
remnants of the archetype. They remind us of terrors suffered by generation
after generation of forebears … fears that we are no better equipped to
handle than were they.
Autumn brings us these and more, as if
to prepare our summer-fattened bodies for the devastation of the coming
winter. She tells us of our innate weakness, of our vulnerability – of
WHILE SPRING COMES so gently to
give us reminders of life and strength, Autumn blesses us with intimations
of impending death. Perhaps we need that far more than we need the Pollyanna
promises of Spring.
Spring gives us the Maypole, virgins romping
joyously in the meadow, and the taste of warmth that Summer will bring.
Autumn offers as her gifts the bonfire,
the spent memories of carefree times, and the promise only of coming days
that will sorely try our skills of survival.
Autumn cometh. In her touch
I feel the kinship of the past
The chilling passion of her clutch
Giving little, asking much
Of minds so small in world so vast.
She nurtures not, her children cast
Upon the altar of the cold
That bears upon them, coming fast
With frightful spectres of the blast
That soon will visit with its hold
Of iron. From their graves, so bold
The phantoms march on minds made
By days of warmth and sun of gold
Aware not of the noisome mold
That threatens souls too blind to
The answers to the Devil’s bleak
Entreaties. Smoke of hell wisps forth
To threaten us with swirls that speak
Of coming peril, soon to peak
In Winter’s breath from frigid north.