Not Enough Just Yet
Oh, look! The days are blue and red and gold,
Sun aslant and trees shimmering into fallness,
Cicadas hum the evening away
And the walking stick clings to the hydrangea stem.
Crickets strum to their own rhythm
And the geese who live next door
Make a trial run, perfecting their V’s
For future reference.
Mornings are cool and evenings
Bring thoughts of fireplaces.
It’s too soon yet.
The tulip bulbs are not in the ground
And the brick walk languishes unfinished.
The window frames not painted
And I have lost Ohio summer somewhere
In some other country. I lived their season, not mine.
I come back to September almost over
And I miss it already.
How many seasons have I lived?
How many Septembers?
Not enough that I don’t hoard each one.
Not enough, just yet.
The poem was written on the twenty-first of September, 2015, seven Septembers ago. We had left in high summer and had come back to almost-autumn. We always come back to undone tasks.
The brick walk got laid, but it needs some shoring up on one side. We were amateurs, relishing the somewhat daring attempt, even though the making of it wore out knees and frazzled nerves.
I think there were tulips the following spring—but tulips don’t last forever, and I need to put some more bulbs in the ground again this fall.
The window frames got painted, red against the black trim on our white house. Trees were planted—my husband is an avid tree-planter. Flower beds were cleaned up and perennials experimented with, some successes and some failures, who knows just why.
Some year in the last seven, we put a roof on the deck and can sit out there in (almost) all weathers, including driving rain that thunders on the ridged metal and drowns out our conversation. We strung up twinkle lights and can hardly wait for dusky evenings so we can turn them on.
We love our seasons. We love clouds and sunrises and the sliver of a moon on a dark night. I know a few of the constellations, brighter now, and always wish I knew more, could name them. Names, somehow, bring out personalities, even with stars. We love brisk, energizing breezes and the turning of the leaves.
I’ve always loved September because it is my birthday month. But September, in my childhood, brought with it a major flaw: school started the day after Labor Day. My birthday was either the day before or the day of. I was conflicted: my birthday, from the time I could read, brought new, inviting books. But—school started. I loved ordering fall clothes from Alden’s Mail-Order Catalogue, black-watch plaid skirts and bright wool sweaters. But—school started. I loved blank, yellow, lined tablets and sharpened pencils. But—they meant school started. Not once in twelve years could I be at peace with the coming of September. I even got stomach aches every September when my own children started to school.
Those Septembers belong to the past. Now, just the name September has such a welcome sound after August, the month of searing heat and dryness. And it’s my birthday.
I have lost other Ohio summers in other countries. Lost? But I lived them and lived them to the full. I don’t regret that life, even when it makes me miss September. But when I come back, and September is almost over, I mourn.
All that was ever ours, is ours forever... All, all is ours. It is not left behind among the withered things that must decay; it is stored up for us, somewhere and for another day. i
i Amy Carmichael, from Mountain Breezes, a poetry collection