The ninth month of the year,
before the Julians changed the calendar,
promoting their household,
claiming the glories of high summer for their own:

ninth month,
one could call it “term.”
A welcome arrival,
when development leads to fruition
and fruition leads to birth.

ninth month,
pushed ahead.
Relegated to the Fall-of-the-year,
to that time when the glow of fulfillment
has faded and the eventual closing-in
and collapse of abundance
starts to bite in earnest.

A time of lack.
No light,
no warmth,
no harvest; but frost
and a cold, silvery moon.

To the Julians
it was clear
they were claiming a high point for their age.
They understood.
After them would come
a reckoning,
a Fall,
an Autumn.

This Autumn of ours
caught us by surprise.
This was not what we expected.
No matter what signs and portents.
Not so much….
No matter;
but we have grown so accustomed
to looking ahead;
ever faster,
ever farther.

And always seeing,
reflected in that deceiving mirror,
only what we want to see.
Visions of Augustan triumphs
following each Julian consolidation of power.
The results compound like the figures in our ledgers
endlessly reaching for the impossible
and seemingly getting there.

No wonder we did not see
what we were forging,
hidden inside our dreams,
the only possible result of all our striving.

Ninth month.
Too late to mistake
a mild afternoon
for the return of harvest’s bounty.

Even as things get hotter,
we experience so much of this
as a descent into winter.
Desert people would have a more apt image perhaps,
for when the brief cool
and moisture of a precocious Spring
withers into a blazing dry and barren summer.

We enter this tale
in November.
We do not know
where it leads.

We can only be certain
it does not lead back
to anything we would recognize.
It is only after some far-off new Spring
has accommodated with the ravages
of this long, dead season
that it can ever again become clear
how this particular dark harvest,
this slim chance of any regrowth,
was necessary.
That it could have been arrived at
in no other way.

From here,
all we can see
is what has been lost,
what continues to be at risk.
All vectors head away
from any possible promise.

Ninth month.
We do have practice
at this sort of thing.
We have often
had to negotiate
a time when good-news was scarce.
When there were no
signs of hope.

A good thing.
We have always
needed some way to adjust
our proclivity to settle into expectations
and wallow in the sterile seductions
of maximizing our imagined delights
at the expense
of our real treasure.

Even now,
this November upon us,
it is dawning clarity
that we are more alive
in this time of contraction
than in the queasy midst
of heady surfeit and undemanding ease
which brought us here.

We find our strength,
instead of looking
for some advantage.

We find each other,
and in so doing,
recognize what we’ve been
so sorely lacking;
what drove the manias
that brought us

Ninth month,
no longer.





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