Monday, September 12, 2011

An Autumn Muse


In honor of the changing seasons. And because I have muses on the mind, and Aunt Leaf seems like a most excellent muse... 
Aunt Leaf by Mary Oliver
Needing one, I invented her -
the great-great-aunt dark as hickory
called Shining-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud
or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.

Dear aunt, I'd call into the leaves,
and she'd rise up, like an old log in a pool,
and whisper in a language only the two of us knew
the word that meant follow,

and we'd travel
cheerful as birds
out of the dusty town and into the trees
where she would change us both into something quicker -
two foxes with black feet,
two snakes green as ribbons,
two shimmering fish - and all day we'd travel.

At day's end she'd leave me back at my own door
with the rest of my family,
who were kind, but solid as wood
and rarely wandered. While she,
old twist of feathers and birch bark,
would walk in circles wide as rain and then
float back

scattering the rags of twilight
on fluttering moth wings;

or she'd slouch from the barn like a gray opossum;

or she'd hang in the milky moonlight
burning like a medallion,

this bone dream, this friend I had to have,
this old woman made out of leaves.


Anonymous said...


I have a piece of a mary oliver poem taped on the wall next to my desk: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Thanks for sharing Aunt it.

liz michalski said...

What a wonderful window onto fall -- thank you.

Cynthia Lee said...

I really liked that poem.

At first reading, I thought you had written it. I finished it and I thought "damn, that girl's good." :)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

How beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Adele Richards said...

gorgeous x

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

What a fun and interesting topic for a writing exercise - to imagine and personify a muse for oneself. I'm thinking of all kinds of intriguing possibilities...

R.L. LaFevers said...

So glad you all enjoyed the poem, too!

And Cynthia, ha! I *wish*!!