Autumn in New York
...and New England.
Photo by Barrie Kreinik: Central Park, NYC.
Happy belated Halloween! I can’t believe October is over already. The weather in New York didn’t acquire its usual crispness until mid-month, so the foliage colors are two weeks late and I’m scrabbling to hold onto the joys of autumn before the holiday season bulldozes in. (Radio City Music Hall has already put up its Christmas lights. Whatever happened to waiting until Thanksgiving?)
In that spirit, I’ve decided to share a brazen bit of nostalgia—one might even use that dreaded word, sentimentality—with you this month. It’s a poem I wrote several years ago (back when I still wrote poetry on the regular) that includes all the things I most enjoy about autumn in my home region of New England. Formal poetry has long been out of style, but to me there are certain ideas that can only be adequately conveyed in rhyme. So I hope you enjoy what follows, and I wish you a November full of all these fall delights—and more.
- - -
I yearn this year for a Yankee fall: the rise
Of nature on her pathway to demise;
The plaster walls of this shadowed city room
Are shutting out the air and in the gloom.
I want a russet season, jewel hued
A ride on a wagon piled high with hay
A paper cup of cider, freshly brewed
A jack-o-lantern carved in orange clay
A sapling glowing bright with yellow leaves
A crate of shiny apples from a farm
A cozy sweater, red, with cabled sleeves
A patchwork scarecrow with a crooked arm
A field of auburn pumpkins laced with dew
A woolen hat with a faded brim, careworn
A steaming bowl of beef-and-barley stew
A hefty bag of treacly candy corn
The scent of dying leaves and rain-damp dirt
The crunch of boots across thick forest floors
The warmth inside a fuzzy flannel shirt
The taste of cocoa sweetening as it pours
A donut from a farmstand by the road
A candle in a jar adorned with moons
A ghoul costume craftily hand-sewed
A bright bouquet of carnival balloons
A field of kilts and a hockey game well played
The crispness of a breeze from east-south-east
A kindergarten Halloween parade
The stuffing at a family turkey feast
I want to sit on the porch of my old house
And watch the sun dissolve behind the trees
Then put on corduroys and a buttoned blouse
And walk while the thinning air begins to freeze
Recalling rusty autumns past, in which
This urban light had not begun to burn,
Wondering where the button is, the switch
To flip the globe a counterclockwise turn.
Contrary to the popular belief,
This season is a master of disguise:
In autumn, nature dons the garb of grief
And burns with splendor just before she dies.