A Fall Poem for You

Stopping at a Poetry Box on an Overcast Afternoon
(for Patricia)

Derek Walcott
Behind plexiglass
Mourns the end of summer and I am there
Air cool on my face
September bringing me to a place of gratitude
As I stand by the poem, reading richness

A woman stops, joins me
She reads a bit aloud and we marvel at a line or two
I have seen her before in the neighborhood
Taking pictures of seasons flowers
Rapt in Harlequin's Glorybower and the other
 lovely things that grow

We speak of children and of verse
 of our lives, in an immediate tense
We conjugate in the here and now
Our love for words, for teaching
For the life around us.

We walk slowly together
To the corner where we say goodbye
I take my leave and stroll on home
She is now a familiar stranger and we,
We both the better for that moment.

Hazel M. Wheeler

and the inspiring poem:

A Lesson for This Sunday

Derek Walcott, 1930
The growing idleness of summer grass
With its frail kites of furious butterflies
Requests the lemonade of simple praise
In scansion gentler than my hammock swings
And rituals no more upsetting than a
Black maid shaking linen as she sings
The plain notes of some Protestant hosanna—
Since I lie idling from the thought in things—

Or so they should, until I hear the cries
Of two small children hunting yellow wings,
Who break my Sabbath with the thought of sin.
Brother and sister, with a common pin,
Frowning like serious lepidopterists.
The little surgeon pierces the thin eyes.
Crouched on plump haunches, as a mantis prays
She shrieks to eviscerate its abdomen.
The lesson is the same. The maid removes
Both prodigies from their interest in science.
The girl, in lemon frock, begins to scream
As the maimed, teetering thing attempts its flight.
She is herself a thing of summery light,
Frail as a flower in this blue August air,
Not marked for some late grief that cannot speak.

The mind swings inward on itself in fear
Swayed towards nausea from each normal sign.
Heredity of cruelty everywhere,
And everywhere the frocks of summer torn,
The long look back to see where choice is born,
As summer grass sways to the scythe’s design.


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