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Comments by Larry Palletti

Autumn’s ghost returns

Autumn cometh.

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 blossoms.

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 ways.

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 nights.

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. You cannot.

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 our mortality.

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 weak

By days of warmth and sun of gold

Aware not of the noisome mold

That threatens souls too blind to seek

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.
 
 


Just who is Larry Palletti?

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