Today is the last day of November, representing for me the last day of autumn from three glorious months. Another farewell to fall. Although a few leaves are still rustling themselves from my one tree, the neighbor behind has two oversize Mulberry trees that are just turning. Fortunately for me, the wind usually blows them right into my raked yard. Does that count for extending my autumn?
Recently I pulled several photo albums off the shelf that was my mother’s. She had dozens of shoeboxes full of photos that had not found a home in her albums. I made that an early task after I brought them all to Arizona, to fill those empty pages. In thinking of fall, my grandmother had large oak trees on two sides of her property. In these pictures are many snapshots over the years of those trees. One is of my dad in his Navy uniform on an early chilly winter day, another of my son at four, raking and burning leaves with great grandma and step grandpa.
Another of my uncle in an army uniform holding a transistor radio. He was Grandma’s youngest and only boy. Of course, she spoiled him. But my point is never can I travel back in time without Grandma’s home, her gardens, her large yard, her daffodils, and her playing the piano or reading, to which these memories dominate my seasons.
The shoeboxes of photos were a treasure to draw from when in the workshop where I first met my soon-to-be, lifelong writers group to date. Until this class ‘writing from photos’, I had no idea what lay hidden. As I say goodbye to autumn, here is one of those poems.
Under a broken sidewalk,
roots of aged maple and oak trees
crawl. Evening red, summer gold
and slumber brown leaves smolder,
raked into a pile.
Overhead, the winter sky approaches,
the last of the leaves have vanished,
their ashes rise sooty, sugary
Grandma grips the rake,
fire glows in her eyes and
under the leaves, embers
burn her skin and presses
against her stockings.
A photo is snug in her apron pocket,
her only son, barely a young man,
stands below this tree’s molten red leaves
like lava, waiting to say goodbye.
His shoulders newly wide enough
to carry the weight of his Army uniform.
Years ahead, she watches from the door,
lends a hand and leans the rake against the
Her black glove dangles with a hole in
the right thumb, the last of the leaves,
the last of her autumn held tight within