by Gail Mazur

Days of Awe.
Month of our parents’ deaths.

Reddening dogwood and sugar maple,
deep dark red of sumac
along a Cape road, and in the city,
jackets donned, then at mid-day shed.

Nature’s refrain, the return of losses,
piercing glory of the leaves’ palette
before the tossing windy rains,
slop and decay, the burial under snow.

And yet, a new year, new breath:

repetition of stories that once wounded
or bewildered and now delight—
actual stories, after all
this time: Funny. Sad. Slight

Memories, misquotes.
Days of reflection, of reconciliation.

Their faults now only foibles
and all the meannesses and pathos,
hoarding and generosities,
the stoniness and warmth,

part of their allure,
part of the layered shapeliness.
Enduring, granitic characters
at last achieved.

With acceptance of them,
some also perhaps of yourself.
It is not your job to finish the task,
but neither are you free to abandon it.

Gail Mazur, “October” from Figures in a Landscape (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011).