The good-looking one, the one in need, the one that almost was
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I was born in autumn — born into a regretful
season. The days before and after my birthday
are ones of lonesome walking, over susurrant
leaves, days in which one recalls the cadences
All things are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing.
Viewing thousands of abandoning leaves, one
senses the futility of a worldly career. One
publishes an article in a newspaper, for example
— perhaps to great acclaim. Two days later,
the same newspaper billows down an avenue,
pushed by the October wind.
So strong is the October wind, it blows all
accomplishments — all diplomas, money, press
releases — before it. And in this wind is the
first taste of winter’s grueling breath.
But this fall is different for me. Walking in
Phoenicia Park, toward the rising Tremper
Mountain, now beginning to show its varied
color, I am not melancholy. The recent horrors
in Manhattan and at the Pentagon change the
tone of this autumn to reassurance. Stepping
over deep red maple leaves, I observe: This is not
blood. Here are a thousand deaths I need not
mourn. The leaves did not leap from a burning
tower; they simply fell, as gravity tugged.
The earth is designed with four seasons — at
least in the higher latitudes — one of birth,
one of fluorescence, one of harvest, one of
contemplation. Despite war, and acts of
ruthlessness, Nature preserves her subtle intent.
There are years one resents Nature’s inevitable
plan, and there are years one is thankful for this
same inevitability. I would rather be helpless
before autumn than before warriors and grim