“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. 🙂

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“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.

 

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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.


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