Autumn Song

Before we moved to Oregon, we lived in a little house on the west end of our farm. It was well off the main road and hidden behind tall poplars, the roots of which drank greedily from the adjacent vineyard row. These trees made divine music, especially in the fall, when the mature leaves became a solemn choir dark and green, eyes upon the freedom-death of winter.

Inside, between the piano and wood stove, there was a small desk and a manual typewriter, a heavy Royal from the 1950s I had received in trade for an electric model with overly sensitive keys and an annoying hum. The Royal was loud, but only when I struck the keys. And when I did strike them, they responded once and with certainty. The rest of the time, the machine rested like an anchor.

In those days, I had no regular writing schedule. I wrote only when the spirit moved me. Stung by a word or phrase, I could feel my blood quicken, and like an addict I would drag myself to my little corner and type until the riddle was solved, or until I had reduced it to hieroglyphics. It was a wonderful experience, this rendering of dust and form amid the country silence, this puzzling over the music within, made visible as words.

I also wrote each day while I was at work in our vineyards and orchards, but those words were never committed to paper. The spirit moved me, but more important was the work at hand, and the necessary commerce connected with it. Thus was the spirit translated into trees gracefully balanced and pruned, long furrows straight and true, fragrant earth cultivated and sensibly arranged, and bunches of sweet grapes that would please kings and queens at table and humble them to astonished silence.

Give us this day our daily bread,
but when evening comes and the tide is in,
preserve this autumn song.

The choir sings in fading green-clad hue;
gone yellow now, a confession of spidery veins.

So it was, and so it is:
solitude while the choir sings,
pleasure mixed with pain.

September 9, 2005

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Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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