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A Gift of December
Leaves turned russet and yellow lakeside,
the hills prove late blooming a possibility,
rescinding for a while the promise of songs
about the austere stages of romance, and worse,
black sticks and branches overhanging this
my own world. I know whose woods
these are. And I have only today to get
something right, which means finding me
in this momentariness. So what’s new in that?
Forgive the old fashioned verse and the Frost
plug. (He’s hard to get around.) Who knows
but that tomorrow crucial witnessing is withdrawn
and the heart of the mind of the soul with it.
How to live wholly for a while is what one gets.
Happily a poem once begun writes itself,
as if there were such things as the laws
of songs. Well there are. (Blame Bach.)
They’re there but you don’t know till after
the first line. And the last furnishes closure,
as in fiction. (Those in this trade know what
I mean.) Now, what about today, this hour,
this morning that has night for accompaniment.
I watch all morning the leaves furnishing
my day’s yellow light and it narrows,
invents the eye, the same eye that survives
the dark and the ruins that must soon become
the hills. My only hope is my selves endure
in what I am unable to complete.
Gordon Osing is Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at the University of Memphis, where he founded the River City Visiting Writers Series.