Even now, the lion sculpture at Frog Hollow,
the one made of so many old metal washers,
shines as best it can in the subdued light.
The water rushing over the falls sounds
its deep chords, playing off the wind
in the maple and linden trees, and we find
the one spot of sun. And even now,
with this cool autumn falling, we’ll walk
by the river, and we’ll keep walking —
past houses and fields, past statues
standing or fallen, through streets and over
bridges. Below them the merging of so
many colors — red, brown, yellow and auburn
— in cool swirling waters. We’ll make way
and keep making way, and send praise
to the day, to the towns that endure,
and to the lion that roars above the river
pulling particles of gold from the sun-flecked
air, from the autumn trees, sending them
out for the world, for the days ahead,
for the making way, for the roaring.
— Susan Jefts
It was one of those recent cool fall days, mid-morning by the Otter Creek — a day of elements coming together, landing in a particular way on paper. I’ve always loved autumn, including this one, but, of course, this is no ordinary autumn. Images and elements seemed to be coming from every direction — from the lion sculpture outside the Edgewater Gallery, from the speckled light through the trees overhead, from the wind and the river — all of it merging on paper against the backdrop of unprecedented cultural events. Suddenly the poem was no longer about just an autumn morning by the falls.
It was still about autumn and the river, but just as much about this time of walking and marching, of making way and creating change through new movements, new bridges and new sounds, through the tearing down of the old and laying foundations for the yet to be. There is too much happening in the world to encompass it all, especially in art, so may this poem be a way to be at once in presence and even a bit of peace on an autumn morning in one small town in Vermont, and at the same time with all that is happening on our cities, towns and streets across the country and world in this indescribable time.
There is always room for both — the peace and the disruption, the light and the dark — and we need, even in dark challenging times, to be able to see and take in the beauty that is around us, that can enliven and sustain us, maybe even transform us so we can do what we feel called to in this world. To be like the season we’re in — this time of immense beauty and transformation that is known by every tree and flower, every particle of soil and atom of air, by everything alive that feels the change, the shifting currents and the bright pulsing light and force that is there, whether it’s visible or not.
Susan Jefts is a poet and educator from Ripton and the southern Adirondacks. Visit manyriverslifeguidance.com to learn more about her work.