Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Judith Sanders: Autumn Walk at Beechwood Farms

 
You said, Name the world.  
So I said, I call this a spangle tree.
How about, you said, a rose-hued spangle tree.
That’s beautiful, I said.
Let’s name the world together.
No, you do it, you said.  What’s this?
And held up a leaf.  Red, three fingers.
Red mitten leaf, I said.
And that?  Golden grain.  Moptop grass.
Chewberry bush.  A donglehopper.
 
How about this feeling?  I said.
Can you name it?
Can you name this sunlit chill, 
the meadow brown and gold,
the crunch and crackle 
of leaves we shuffle through,
old friends seldom together?
 
Can you name how we remember
being here with sons now grown, 
tossing pebbles in the water?
Here with that botanist
who won your heart 
by naming every plant, 
even the water weeds? 
 
What do you call it, 
what would he call it,
when we share tea on a bench
and homemade bread and apple butter?
When the trail is closed because 
deer are being hunted
with bow and arrow?
 
Name how we feel, the leaves 
dying around us,
bees probing skeletons of flowers,
deer pierced nearby.
 
Name slipping on wet leaves.
Name how I catch you.
Name me saying, 
lean on my arm.
Name me not saying,
You should wear better shoes.
 
Name how the plants are beautiful in old age,
like our mothers, hair white as milkweed,
skin speckled with brown seeds.
Name how we cocooned 
in their leaves.
How their stalks bent 
yet held
when we flew away.
 
Name it, name it all,
using only one word.  
A word you search for.
A word you build 
out of leaves and air.
Out of memories and forgetting.
Out of together and apart.
 
Come next November
will we remember this 
view of bare branches
cascading below us
if we cannot now 
find its name?
 
So name it, you said.
Name it with words 
more beautiful
than the real names.
 
-- 
 
 
For Sharon McDermott and Christine Benner Dixon 

Copyright 2020 Judith Sanders

Milkweed plant and Monarch Butterfly

6 comments on “Judith Sanders: Autumn Walk at Beechwood Farms

  1. John Beranbaum
    October 20, 2020

    It’s quite beautiful, Judith!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cara
    October 18, 2020

    So evocative of passing time, a deep friendship and a fall walk in the woods. I felt I was walking beside you…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sherrie Bergman
    October 9, 2020

    Name me not saying,
    You should wear better shoes.

    The easy banter and affection between two close friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Steven Cherry
    October 8, 2020

    Very beautiful. Naming is a powerful metaphor.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Judith
    October 8, 2020

    Thanks, Barbara, for highlighting those lines.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Barbara Huntington
    October 7, 2020

    Name how the plants are beautiful in old age,
    like our mothers, hair white as milkweed,
    skin speckled with brown seeds.

    Liked by 1 person

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