Autumn Man- courtesy of Tim

When my father died of a brain tumor in early December in 2007, my husband was in Ghana, and my mother was in the next room down the hall in the hospital, still with a tracheostomy,  just out of a month in intensive care.  I called our son Tim down from Edmonton to help me keep the last vigils.  He was also there beside me on the snowy day that we buried Dad, and sang “Up from the Grave He Arose” as the coffin was lowered.  I’m too Ghanaian to walk away from a cemetery with a coffin eerily suspended over a hole surrounded by artificial turf.

Some time the next summer Tim sent me this.

Autumn Man

I am an Autumn Man
just can’t find the strength to face the winter
but summer’s sun’s too fierce a face
for me I find a special grace
in Autumn.

One last defiant shout they raise
these chorused trees. Or perhaps they sway
some swan song dance – this breeze
…so cold. It brings a flush to my cheeks
and I walk with a spring.

Every thing is crisply clear:
Balance on the cusp of Equinox
between the day and night
the sun and ice
death and the life.
You will find Autumn.

… and I see summer fading in your eyes.

Twice twenty twice the world whirls ’round the sun
and pauses
on a razor’s edge
a strange chill in the air.

“Either way is good for me,” you say.
Don’t lie so still.

Let’s prolong the summer
small talk and smile forever
and the days aren’t getting shorter
things will be o…
Or – or I’ll wrap you in snow blankets
soft and smothered, feeling nothing
seeing nothing
saying less.
Mute and forgotten, whited out
except for a voice through the drifting flakes

Reading from Hebrews.
We were caught – you, I, and the faith of Abraham
in a moment between one breath
…and that breath that never came.

Somehow we’re still there.
Look.
The hills are ripe with saskatoons.
Ruby juice and woody pulp
wine and bread between my teeth.
I straighten from picking to catch your eye
as it springs to trace the golden fields
that stretch to touch the far horizons.
Up above us Heaven rolls out
scarlet, indigo, violet, saffron,
all the royal colours.
Here within God’s mighty hands
we are the Autumn Men.

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