“Almost Autumn”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 15 2012 10:06 AM

“Almost Autumn”

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Angie Estes read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

and the sky this morning already a December
sky in Venice, itself a closet lit only by a seam
of remembered light. The geese send their silhouettes

across it, evidence that something moves
on the other side. For weeks in May, pecan blossoms
streaked the air and we found out

what it was like to spend an entire season
in the Perseids, how God must have felt
creating the stars in an initial O, illuminated

in a fifteenth-century manuscript in Siena. So many
stars to touch on the iPad of the night, to name
as each turned into light: wear, were,

never, ere. Down here, I’ve been considering
whether these split-shingle cardinals are mottled
or molting—probably more like melting

in this late August heat. Not one pecan
survived the summer, though it’s better perhaps not
to have them knocking on the roof all hours

of the night. I’m trying to see what some call
bright side, how the sun does not
disappear: it’s just the world turning

away. In the Sienese illumination, Earth’s a gnarled
green marble, the center of zero, something shot
clear through to seen, but who inflated

the cosmos around it, tossed it out
like a blue plastic float? I still think God may be
holding up the hem of his gown as he reaches

for Livia, livid, ever, seem, until a slip
of his tongue lights up oblivion, believe. The mourning     
dove has mounted to the peak

of the roof; impossible to say which side
she is rooting for. When the sky gets dark enough
for all the stars to be seen, what we’ll need

is not some pleated ocean waving
, but a word, the last
in French films: Fin, what we will use

to swim away.

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 12:43 PM Occupy Wall Street How can Hillary Clinton be both a limousine liberal and a Saul Alinsky radical?
Sept. 23 2014 12:36 PM Krispy Kreme Stuffed Half a Million Calories Into One Box of Doughnuts
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon Who Wasn’t
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.