Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Last Light


Last Light

"All changed, changed utterly:   
A terrible beauty is born..." ~W. B. Yeats 
I was born
in the black and white,
a changed place still living what had been,
a winter child in a fossil's spring of
sun and shadow, war's unmercied clarity
and the trampled mud of peace,
its empty whiskey bottles
and gardens of shaded violets, deep
black soil, black thunderclouds, 
white winter sky, blackened medals,
white gauze veils packed away 
in crackled trunks.
Now I live my last in a red dirt country
where the heat-song of September changing
dips the fading wheat in ginger honey. Wind-weary
trees lace still-green leaves thru the soft
reaching fingers of clouds, holding tight
before their scarlet fall.
Earth is whispering her love words
in the rustle of sundried grass
and blackberries tumbling over with
thickets of banquets in seedy puzzles.
When I turn to face the setting citrine sun
it's you I call to the open door
to sit beside me in the shortening days
drunk with bees and crow-call,
rich with the gatherings of every flower.
Won't you come, beloved,
before January rimes the windows
with its deep blue loss. 
Come to the place 
where you can't be forgotten.
Bring your cinnamon september skin
and your wild silver-grass hair to these ruins,
and your campfire eyes,
alight in the night of dreams so far
beyond the black and white.
Lace your fingers with mine
as trees do with the sky,
separate and one
where the fire of what was
in the hope of what may never be
is the only light left
before the scarlet fall.

October 2022

Posted for earthweal's
With thanks to Brendan for the poetry of W.S Merwin and others which inspired this. 
Images: My mother with myself at 2 months of age, Evanston, Illinois March 7th, 1949 
House North of Nash, Oklahoma, 2022  photo © Terry Wassan   via internet   Fair Use


  1. This poem is so completely, breathtakingly beautiful - the lush imagery, the nostalgia looking back plucking the heartstrings, and closing stanzas sweetly beautiful enough to break your heart. Wonderful to read this this morning.

  2. Um lindo poema, cheio de referências e muita poesia

  3. You string your lyre so beautifully!
    'Won't you come, beloved,
    before January rimes the windows
    with its deep blue loss.'
    - Amen to this!

  4. How could Earth have waxed from the nuclear winter of the first two stanzas? Yet is has, even blossoming love along the way — the thing which, as Jack Gilbert put it, lasts by not lasting. Even when it falls as the last of summer drains away. One wonders how anything could be possible, might have hope, in the conditions where this began, but now it feels stronger and purer than light itself. The Septembral mood of the middle stanzas are perfected by sere reflections of the beloved's face beyond all winters. This is some ocarina Hedge, start to finish.

  5. Where to even begin with this hauntingly beautiful love song. From the evocative black and white beginning which develops into a kaleidoscopic weave of nostalgia tinged colour. It moved me to tears in many of it's crafted moments but particularly this:

    where the fire of what was
    in the hope of what may never be

    is the only light left
    before the scarlet fall.

    Thank You. This was a profound read.

  6. I am going to be very tiresome--because i know you don't chase after publication--but really, Joy, this so ought to be published. If I didn't know your style, and just read this someplace, I would have no doubt that it was written by some famous poet. It is that good, and that flawless. It was as I read the third stanza that I knew I was reading something very special.

    To quote just one bit that I loved so much, I'll go with "seedy puzzles." My goodness. Of course, it is the overall effect, the entirety of this poem that is the real gem here. I agree with Sherry, this is just special and moving stuff. It strikes me that a poem like this could only be written with age; there are some gifts that go with living long enough, having something to say about it, and being able to say it. Score across the board for you this time, my friend.

  7. I have read and reread this so many times this week and still I am stuck between silence and gushing. So achingly poignantly beautiful. So resonant and full with images of place and person so finely rendered that I feel I am there on the cusp of that scarlet fall, even here in the thronging of spring. Really gorgeous - wow.

  8. I think my comment was lost to blogger again. I will come back later to check if it has shown up and recomment if it has not. Your poem is wonderful - Really, really beautiful.

    1. Thank you so much. Your comment was lost to comment moderation, so my bad, not yours. Thanks again for your kind and generous words.

  9. yes, to all those sentiments. sublime pen, Joy. the ache of knowing the red dirt country is in its scarlet fall, and ... que sera, sera.

    I've fallen adrift of poetry, reading none and writing less. Yours is the first I've read since my last visit here. Thanks for visiting my place the other day. Things are OK for now - the recent test showed a bit of a retreat, so again the watchful waiting, in 90 day intervals.

    Another week before the polls close, and the scarlet fall will be full upon us, yes? ~

    1. I'm glad to hear from you, M, and to know there is some remission in the fight. It's exhausting and eats spirit and energy--and poetry which needs so much of both. Yes, the scarlet writing is on the wall of this fall, in every sense of falling. Stay as strong as you can, and I would love to see Point Reyes again, in your words or your photos, whatever you can give. May there always be light for you, M.

    2. and a spooky Hallows Eve to you, Joy. May the inversion begun by Bolsanaro's defeat in Brazil sweep across the globe. One can dream on this night, of any, yes?


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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