Equinox 2008

By Peter Halstead

The world is balanced on its toes tonight,
Waiting for the even sun to fall,
               Although nothing hints at last year’s
Luxuriant recall.
September sweeps into a pile of leaves,
Brushwood blowing down the road,
               Nonetheless. Neon sprays of summer
Are dying on the ground, the celestial node
This time completely drained
By a foreign, otherworldly light,
               Disconnected from the comfort
Zone of fall—the amber dusk, or bright
Embracing college yards, where the future
Seems so clear, spread out like grass,
Precessing optimistically to snow—
Anyhow, the reasons for the moment mass,
Autumns wheeling into wind, but always
Circling like the skimmers down the skies
               To spring, each defective blaze
Of repeated morning new, every rise
A gift, as if the gears of heaven drift
For us, each short, slight slough of sound
An echo of our broken star,
No matter how the ocean drowned
Or ice swept beating earth away.
Dreams that froze the solar floods,
               That silenced clocks and deafened trees
With their static screams, were flesh and blood
To the racing endless sea, the perfect
Mirror to the planet’s pantomime:
Not the knot of astronomical effects,
Not doctored calendars of time,
But insufficient labyrinths we size
To even out the season’s winding lies.

Explanation

I wrote this lamentation over a family member’s health on the Rio Grande trail in Aspen, looking up at the tombstone-like trees silhouetted on Red Mountain against a storm, but with intense polarized blue showing between their trunks. As it was the day after the spring equinox, I felt equal parts despair and hope, reflected, always obligingly, in the weather.