SkyDancer — Tales
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Keeping Time

I hear geese
But when I look up
all I see is brilliant cloudless blue.
Listen again: was it just the voices of the children
in the schoolgrounds on the other side of the woods?
No, geese plainly again.
A chainsaw buzzes next,
Then I notice how loud the wind in the pines
At the back of my garden
Where I am sitting, sheltered.

I can’t see the geese or the children or the woodcutter,
Only bees in the purple and magenta asters
That fall in heaps, too heavy to stand up.

The garden is in partial ruin:
Dahlias and basil hanging in black tatters from the first frost,
Zinnias still stiff but all their colors browned.
Still the sage and the small-leafed catnip
sprawl luxuriously onto the path, silvery against the asters,
And one yellow dahlia flower remains.

Yesterday I started pulling up the zinnias
But today all I want to do is sit in the path:
No impulse to set disarray in order, as earlier in the year.
Tomorrow I’ll compost; right now, it’s perfect as it is—
The geese told me.

The geese who call as they leave
And call again when they return
Sounded to me like the feeling of menstrual cramps,
A sign I’ve always welcomed, a sign saying
My body’s changing in her appointed cycles,
My rhythms are keeping time.

Now, menopause: my appointed season too is
Abundance, disarray, and partial ruin.

Why does it feel so good to hear the geese?
It is comforting to be sheltered in the beauty
That remains among the ruin.
But it gives me peace to be one with the turning world.

© Copyright 1993 Catherine Holmes Clark