After You

The summer slipped away again,
washed away in heavy rain,
turning itself over to a burnt October

The pear trees slowly slumped beneath
the balmy weight of southern sky
and finally they bore their swollen fruit

Now the mild autumn days roll by calmly,
slow as summer thunder.
This house is very quiet.

Outside the world keeps blooming into auburn color,
flooding through the kitchen windows
where I am baking bread or reading novels

Even the bees drift lazily among the fallen pears
fermenting in the sun.  I watch them start to fly
then float back down to the sugar-bruised fruit

Surely nothing is more silent
than steam escaping hot bread broken
alone, than black tea going cold. 

12 thoughts on “After You

  1. Really beautiful work, Jay–Some incredibly deft sonic play here. Lovely consonance, assonance, and there is a lovely subtle implied hinge between the third and fourth stanzas. Not at all to say that the last three stanzas aren’t great (because they are) or that they don’t belong (because they do), but you could very neatly end the poem after the third stanza and it would stand alone and very well. But there’s that soft turning from “then” to “now,” from “without” to “within.” The one become two and the two become one.
    A well-crafted piece, indeed.

    • Johnny, thank you for the extremely thoughtful comment. I worked on this piece for nearly eight months, which sounds extreme, but the final version is essentially unrecognizable from earlier drafts. I love the way you describe it–there is undoubtedly a hinge halfway through the poem. I was really striving for a certain symmetry that would reflect the dicotomy between the stagnant speaker and the ever-dynamic world outside of that speaker. It is meant to shift from impersonal third person narrative in the first three stanzas, to a first personal perspective in the next two, so when the reader reaches the last stanza, they are now seeing this image through the lens of the speaker. Your analysis is startlingly accurate to my own thoughts behind the development of this poem. I am glad you enjoyed it and have been thouroughly enjoying your blog as well.

      • Eight months? Sounds about right. Not extreme at all. A good poem is well worth that kind of time. The hard work and attention to detail has definitely come through.
        I have some pieces that I guess I’ve been working on for 15 or more years. I’m pretty sure there are some that I’ve been working on for that long or longer and I don’t even know it yet. But one of these days I’ll go digging around in an old journal and something I wrote when I was twenty-something (and a lousy writer!) will jump out and tell me how to finish it. There are a number that I know I won’t finish for years yet. I am gratified but somehow not surprised to find someone who spends that kind of time on their work. I look forward to many more good reads.
        A pleasure, dear–

    • You have no idea what a compliment that is to me–I take a very specific pleasure in crafting my last stanzas. I particularly relish images that linger, rather than general abstractions or conclusive commentary (although these can, of course, be successful in their own right as well).

      • I think going for the image always beats anything else, tho. Something that can enlarge in the reader’s mind–not a reduction, which a summary/conclusion can be, but an opportunity for the poem’s substance to grow in the environment of the reader’s individual mind. Anyways. Great work–you can write powerfully and beautifully. those qualities are amplified when one writes honestly. So keep it up.

  2. I loved the mood, I loved the easy flow and I loved how you could relay something so thick and absolutely abstract by the way you looked at and shared things. I adored this. Beautiful and spiced.

  3. This is really powerful. I read it a few times, letting it settle into me. It says a lot. Creeps over my skin. I loved it.

  4. Thank you for visiting my poetry blog. It tells of my own journey over the last forty years as your work tells of yours. Reading your work awaken my curiosity in its insight to your soul and heart. I had to keep reading. Truly you are a being of passion, as I am in many ways. As with you that part has brought much joy in life but with it has come equal pain. I love the room with the books. One of my dreams was a library in a home. I was blessed in having that dream. It is now on the market for sale. It always saddens me to walk her beautiful rooms amidst the beautiful view of a golf course and a pool of beauty before it. I can hope my future journey does not bring me to, too much of a lonely place:

  5. Only with the ending did I sense the depth of your loneliness as you dutifully watched with care and detail the natural world around you only to turn to matters close at hand where steam escapes for naught and tea grows cold because there is no point. I watched a movie unfold, the camera, your eyes, the journey from distraction to what is. Great job!!

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