Not that I ever had her for my own,Song for September
Quick in the house I heard her running feet,
Watched the door swing, garnered a sentence blown
Back to my stillness, "Friends I have to meet."
Nor that I knew her, never her secret thought
Came home to me, nor how she dreamed. I knew
Each growing year the size of clothes I bought,
And that her favorite sweater set was blue.
Now sober reason counsels me again,
This was not yours that goes beyond your sight.
Knowing this well, I must perceive with pain,
The bough is empty when the bird takes flight.
Bravely my mind assures me nothing's lost,
But oh my heart admits the killing frost.
Whew! That is deep and so poignant. I think that each monthly poem was generally more wistful, or upset than the prose entry. That's the thing about poetry, isn't it? It can often come right from the heart onto the page. There can be a depth that prose doesn't often touch.
Though my kids are now in their 30s, I still remember those periods of melancholy as they grew up. I had a friend who said of Margaret that she thought she would end up in Los Angeles. What pain that little sentence gave me. You just don't know where they will go. I am thankful every single day that my kids are so close, and that they love the home and the state where they grew up. Lucky, lucky.
This is one of the remarkable things about reading Gladys Taber, all these years after she wrote. She was born in 1899. Her daughter Connie was born in 1927. They are both dead now, but the feeling expressed in this little poem still strikes a chord in a parent's heart, as do all Gladys' essays. This has to be a sign of genius - that your words continue to resonate throughout the years.
So many of us seem to love the month of September.
September wind blows away the fatigue of summer heat, and the listlessness of August weather.Fatigue and listlessness. Those are great words to describe this past summer. And September was a welcome relief, until we had a reprise of that weather for a few days. The difference was that I knew it wouldn't go on for ages, and the nights were cooler.
Even in my childhood I remember those few hot days that came back in September. I'd be walking home in my wool kilt (anyone remember them? and kilt pins?), simply boiling but I just had to wear my new school clothes no matter the weather!
It is certainly a month of changeable weather. Gladys says,
The September rains are something I just live through. The rain falls straight and dark and heavy and the leaves on every tree and bush are beaten down by the weight. The early-turned leaves are lost now. The rain seems sad, meaning the end of summer days.But she goes on,
I don't see how this month can be so exciting and at the same time so sad. It is like the second-act curtain in the play of summer. And every day you feel like begging the play to go on a little longer, before the floodlights go out, and summer is gone.
But there is excitement too. The dramatic first flame of maple, the burning gold of the goldenrod, the coming of the first wild blue asters and the richness of ripening pumpkins. Even the air seems to have color in it; one breathes the color, and the heart beats with it.
I am always frightfully sentimental now. Whether the second-act feeling is responsible, or the color goes to my head, I don't know. But I really go all out with sentiment.One of her "sentiments" is so lovely.
I wish we could put up this late summer sunlight in jars. If we could only pack it, clamp the bail down on the glass, set the pressure cooker for, say, ten pounds, and process jars and jars of bright, fresh, mellow sun. I can see how it would look with the jars ranged in the fruit cellar beside the chicken and piccalilli and tomato catsup. And on a dark January day we would bring up a quart or so of sunshine and open it and smell again the warm dreamy air of a late-summer day.Isn't that just wonderful? It reminds me of my favorite Greg Brown song.
I actually put the lyrics on the blog eleven years ago when I'd been blogging just a couple months.
The Book of Stillmeadow was published in 1948, but the essays have copyrights dating from 1937. Gladys was writing about getting wood together for the winter, when suddenly she says,
We acquired some wood this month at a fearful cost. A small private hurricane descended on us, and in ten minutes took down all the old apple trees in the backyard. Wind and rain made a roaring darkness around the house. A window crashed in and water poured clear across the room, and presently the electric cables to the house were reft away and the place plunged into darkness. ... When day came I looked out on the back yard and felt sure my heart was broken. All the lovely old apple trees, so sweet with bloom in the spring, were sprawled on the grass. Only two were left at the edge of the lawn.It was an eerie feeling to read this, as I had just seen in the September installment of the Friends of Gladys Taber (which you may read about here) that this past May a tornado went through Southbury, Connecticut. Luckily, the house was spared but a lot of old trees came down, including pines that Gladys had planted in 1938 to replace those 13 apple trees!
After telling Tom about these two things, he began reading Thirty-Eight The Hurricane That Transformed New England by Stephen Long. He thought it was a terrific book. I plan to read it myself sooner than later.
Gladys ends her September essay beautifully with a paraphrase of Keats' words.
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music tooIt has been a little odd for me writing this in the middle of October, but September flew by. Soon, I hope to write about October, the last month in this book.