for Tony Whedon


I study the light of late afternoon on the ridge. My wife and I can behold it from the porch to which we would migrate like palmers last week, after the heat of the day had grudgingly loosened its grip. What then resembled the hue of an infertile yolk now earns the acclamatory cliché: golden.

It’s late August, the dark arriving earlier by the day. But what’s time? We have old people’s leisure. During that awful hot spell, blessedly past, we could bathe in the pond downhill until we were cool. We are favored by fortune, no question.

Now a small bunch of starlings crosses the waning sun – like sprinkled pepper, I think, revealing my cureless affection for trope, for which I mildly upbraid myself. After that sapping siege, this restorative scene is sufficient in its own right. It scarcely needs my adornment.

And yet I can’t really make myself repent. A person of my age is all done with becoming; and would I change what at last I turned into anyhow? Maybe not.

On this fine Saturday, each feature of our little domain – that gilded light, the barely detectable hint of lilac on the breasts of two doves pecking driveway gravel, the way even the field’s nuisance burdocks seem comely as a breeze troubles their leaf-heavy stalks – calls for celebration.

How I luxuriated last night in pulling up quilts. As the temperature floats around 60 degrees. I scarcely recall my clothes hanging dank, the Saharan feel of dirt on the lane from house to town road.

Today I hiked through the woods at a pace that vaguely resembled brisk. The temperate weather elevated my mood, just as the infernal had invited searing reflections. One of my oldest and most cherished friends, lately buried, was no longer in this world. It seemed astonishing! Another friend, reliant on doctors, or by now on God, clove to thin hope that something miraculous could be done for him. If I’m dying, he wrote in late winter, I won’t tell another soul. His gallows humor seemed only tragic during the heat wave.

He got well. Then his wife died.

Now the two doves fly off together. Despite the breeze and my poor hearing, I detect the faint whistle of their wings. Shadows stretch across the field, whose green yields first to bronze, then suspends itself on the cusp of black. Night-birds tune their throats and tiny frogs prepare their tireless songs.

I conjure what I couldn’t feel in our recent inferno, namely gratitude for the love of place, and even more for the love of a three-generation family and of steadfast friends, quick and dead, who have salved my despair, as entirely unearned as the fondness they’ve lent me, and who have shared in my delights as well.

This cool will deepen, will guide me into the night.





Photo used under CC