“November” by Maggie Dietz

“La Belle Jardiniere – November” by Eugène Grasset (1896)

 

Ah, November!

The eleventh month often gets a bad rap. Sometimes described as “somber,” “gloomy,” or “dreary,” it’s neither here nor there.

October, with its splendid, crisp days and peak foliage is quintessential autumn —  a very hard act to follow. As Anne Shirley famously said, “I’m glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Poor November. Shock of color gone, trees showing their bare bones, chilly winds — suddenly we’re reminded of year’s end, darkness to come. We reflect on our unmet resolutions, mourn the transience of time. At least December has much to distract us with its holiday cheer and bustle, a winter welcome tied with a pretty red bow.

And yet.

 

“Autumn Leaves” by John Everett Millais (1856)

 

Good things happen in November. It’s my birthday month (as well as Len’s, my dad’s and brother-in-law’s). It’s a time to honor veterans (like my mom), and of course, there’s Thanksgiving, when the house smells of spiced cider, roast turkey, homemade pies, squash and pumpkin everything.

A time for gathering in, but also gathering together. Expressing gratitude. Feasting. Who wouldn’t love a month where food takes center stage?

So I’m okay with this take stock, get ready, fortify yourself month. It’s my chance to bask in the fading light and exquisite melancholy. Shorter days? More time for reading and dreaming. 🙂

*

 

“November Freshet” by John Ottis Adams (1897)

 

NOVEMBER
by Maggie Dietz

Show’s over, folks. And didn’t October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.

Nothing left but fool’s gold in the trees.
Did I love it enough, the full-throttle foliage,
While it lasted? Was I dazzled? The bees

Have up and quit their last-ditch flights of forage
And gone to shiver in their winter clusters.
Field mice hit the barns, big squirrels gorge

On busted chestnuts. A sky like hardened plaster
Hovers. The pasty river, its next of kin,
Coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.

Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter’s big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.

The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who’d wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door.

~ from That Kind of Happy (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

 

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Maggie Dietz received a BA from Northwestern University and an MA from Boston University. She is the author of That Kind of Happy (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and Perennial Fall (University of Chicago Press, 2006), winner of the 2007 Jane Kenyon Award from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Dietz has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and Phillips Exeter Academy, among others. She previously served as director of Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project, coediting three anthologies related to the project. She currently teaches at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell and lives in New Hampshire.

 

*

The beautiful, talented, and exceedingly clever Michelle Barnes is hosting the Roundup at Today’s Little Ditty. With bed head and election results, she’s somewhat of a basket case this week, sharing fab poems with commentary. And do I love all the bear talk? Why yes, yes I do. Check out the full menu of poetry goodness and have a delicious Novemberish weekend.


Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

40 thoughts on ““November” by Maggie Dietz

  1. I love that November poem–so apt, even though around here peak foliage really didn’t occur until the first weekend of November. But those days are indeed closing up around 4. Thanks for introducing me to a new-to-me poet, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a beautiful post for this weather and time change, seemed to come so quickly, didn’t it? First, we were all glorying in October and now Maggie Dietz writes exactly how it was and November is, those bees shivering and kids disappearing into their homes. I love the art you shared, Jama, especially that look of the girls in “Autumn Leaves”, somber November. We have some November birthdays too, a month we look forward to! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great poem! I especially love “coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.” That’s one heck of a hairball, no? Happy November to you, Jama. It’s a good hardworking month that ends in celebration— something I respect in a calendar. Thanks also for making me blush with the complimentary words at the end of your post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy birthday month, dear Jama! In Alabama November is the new October. 🙂 We usually get our best colors the first half of November, so I’m rather fond of the month… though I must say, we’ve had a rainy week which might be dreary, except for the amazing color and movement of the leaves and also the gazillion birds at the feeder! Thank you for the poem and your good cheer. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the good wishes, Irene. Glad you’re enjoying some Fall color despite some rain. Wish we could put up bird feeders but we’re plagued by too many squirrels.

      Like

  5. Some of my favorite people are Scorpios (brother, and my dad was, and hubby’s mom) – HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And, you (& Mr. C. of course) are my spirit guides, poetically and artistically, from season to season. Thank you for this glorious post! XO

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I sat in on a workshop with Maggie Dietz at the NH Poetry Festival a few years back. So proud to have her as a poetic representative of our state.

    As for what you said to Brenda–29? really? You have to be nearer to Jack Benny’s 39. Embrace your hard-earned goddess wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. I’m actually closer to 9 — I think that’s my eternal age. Wisdom? The older one gets, the more one realizes how much he/she doesn’t know. Pretty ironic.

      Very cool that you sat in on Maggie’s workshop! Small world. But I should have known since she lives in NH.

      Like

  7. Thank your sharing this pitch-perfect poem, Jama! The skies here in CT have looked “like hardened plaster” for too many days recently, so I’m happy to see the sun this morning! Now I’m off to learn more about Maggie Dietz!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, that was lovely – we have orange skies here instead of much in terms of foliage, but it’s definitely nippy – we can only hope for rain now, for November to feel truly right, and for those poor firefighters to get a break…

    Liked by 1 person

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