“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
the
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
adieu
, but a word, the last
in French films: Fin, what we will use

to swim away.

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Angie Estes is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Tryst, one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.