Fall Equinox

Thank you to Larry, Alice, and Mary Lou who have responded to recent posts. Larry, I appreciate your feelings about having to attend so many funerals/wakes recently: one for the father of children who are now about the age you were when your father died—eight. How difficult it is to lose someone at an age when you can’t really process what is happening. I was seven when my only sister died. I like your idea of writing something that they can read later, or perhaps just to indicate your willingness to talk with them when the time comes. I wish someone had done that for me. As you say, Alice, “Open sharing like this seem to offer release into a bigger picture, easing the way to letting go.”

It is good to know that someone else has survived what you are going through now. Again, as you say, Alice, “These entries are a great reminder of human community and the possibilities of beauty in experience.” 

Mary Lou writes about the “buffer of time” that also helps—not only to soften loss, but also to provide a necessary space between idea and realization. How awful it would be, in spite of our cultural impatience, to have every thought manifest as soon as it is thought! We need time, as you point out, to “get it right” through, perhaps, practice.

Maybe it’s the shortening days that bring such reflections. Fall arrives on Monday, with a nearly new moon: the emphasis on balance and new beginnings.


I go to the piano for 20 minutes and then take a break, pulling my shoulders down and turning my palms outward. It’s hard to break when I’m involved in the music but I have found, as some have noted, that short work periods are often just as productive as longer ones, and sometimes more so.


I got my physical therapist’s ok to start swimming again, but only for 15 minutes. It felt great, and the shoulder was fine as long as I maintained the correct form. I’ve also started using machine weights to strengthen my back. The balance of cross-training feels right.

Larry, a part of your poem also speaks to me of balance:

Breathing curtails
the wince of loss
Inhale to bring them near
Pause to hear them
Exhale and let them go


I’ll close tonight with two poems about fall, geese, and breath: one familiar, and another that might be new to you. It was to me.

First, from Mary Oliver, who just celebrated her 79th birthday:

reading “Wild Geese”


Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver


You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.




 by Michael Shorb

Just north of Valley Falls
  rust mustard hue of
  fading autumn
                chills the marsh
  last storm of
    Canadian geese
  stuns the flyway

      imprinted engines of feathers and cries.

      I wonder how they’ll
    thread their way
  how instincts born of spanning
  northern frosts and raw
  walnut air
            navigate interstate
  haze to pinpoints in
  South American distance
  zeroing back with
  each unerring swoop
  to splashdown
                on a mountain lake
  where reeds bend
  mirrored in watery
              of their own swaying

    they and the vanishing geese
  a single string
            neutron dance
          branches of the actual
  surrounding me like
    breath returning
  when everything else
                        is gone.


image by Kevin Kane

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