Fall, falling, fallen. That's the way the season
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud
Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything
Changes and moves in the split second between summer's
Sprawling past and winter's hard revision, one moment
Pulling out of the station according to schedule,
Another moment arriving on the next platform. It
Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away
From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,
Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving
Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,
Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.
And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.
 
From Wild Gratitude by Edward Hirsch Copyright © 1986 by Edward Hirsch. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Poems by This Author

A Greek Island by Edward Hirsch
Traveling over your body I found
Amour Honestus by Edward Hirsch
The nights were long and cold and bittersweet,
Fast Break by Edward Hirsch
I'm Going to Start Living Like a Mystic by Edward Hirsch
Today I am pulling on a green wool sweater
In Memoriam Paul Celan by Edward Hirsch
Lay these words into the dead man's grave
Lay Back the Darkness by Edward Hirsch
My father in the night shuffling from room to room
The Widening Sky by Edward Hirsch
I am so small walking on the beach
Veterans of Foreign Wars by Edward Hirsch
Let's not forget the General
What the Last Evening Will Be Like by Edward Hirsch
You're sitting at a small bay window
Wild Gratitude by Edward Hirsch
Tonight when I knelt down next to our cat, Zooey


Further Reading

Poems for Autumn
Not Merely Because of the Unknown That Was Stalking Toward Them [But the rocking chair]
by Jenny Boully
After Apple-Picking
by Robert Frost
Autumn
by T. E. Hulme
Autumn
by Richard Garcia
Autumn
by Amy Lowell
Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
by James Wright
Autumn Evening
by David Lehman
Autumn Grasses
by Margaret Gibson
Autumn Movement
by Carl Sandburg
Fall Parties
by Becca Klaver
Home
by Bruce Weigl
Lament of the Middle Man
by Jay Parini
Late Autumn Wasp
by James Hoch
Leaves
by Lloyd Schwartz
Mnemosyne
by Trumbull Stickney
November
by William Cullen Bryant
November Night
by Adelaide Crapsey
October
by Robert Frost
Ode to the West Wind
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Spring and Fall
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
That time of year thou mayst in me behold (Sonnet 73)
by William Shakespeare
The Magpie's Shadow
by Yvor Winters
The Plain Sense of Things
by Wallace Stevens
The Widening Spell of the Leaves
by Larry Levis
The Wild Swans at Coole
by W. B. Yeats
To Autumn
by William Blake
To Autumn
by John Keats
Under the Harvest Moon
by Carl Sandburg
When Autumn Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz