I’ve spent days thinking about September. How can I write a poem about her? Rapid changes are occurring all around me this month, and I’m getting dizzy! I’m downright giddy with bursts of nervous energy. This zest charge was unexpected, hidden in the mists of the crisp early morning. I floated, it seemed, at the crest of September with my feet stretched downwards to dig into the sands of its shoreline. I have been unsuccessful! Since the beginning of this fast−moving month, I tried to pay attention to the small nuances and living details I experienced. I moved carefully, even cautiously, from day to day through the month of ever–changing September. Yes! I am standing at the midpoint of the month, and I still feel like I am lost at sea.
I take a deep breath, hold it in for a couple of seconds as I remember my fingers. I look at the computer screen. I exhale. Nearby, my sleeping dog shifts in his black, furry bed. In his sleep, he snorts, and my leather chair squeaks as my fingers pound out some letters on the stiff keyboard. I move my body forward again and bring my mind back to September. The sun streams through the dusty window.
My back seeks the stability of my solid chair. I raise my hands to my face, close my eyes, and think about my breath. As my chest rises, I become aware of the sharp, piercing call of the eagle flying above the trees outside the window.
At the beginning of the month, I took short walks in the woods. I saw subtle changes. My two dogs stopped and sniffed the breeze. They tried to catch the news of the day, to bring it home and share it with me. We paused on the path, and I watched them stop and stare into the privet bush, then up into the trees. They paid close attention to all the wildflowers as I touched them. I tried to concentrate on the details—to memorize each little fine distinction of a fragile yellow crownbeard flower or the dark blue–green leaves of the white snakeroot plant. I asked, “How does it look in the shade? How does it feel to the touch? Try to remember it all!”
I reached out, touched the trunks of trees as we traveled together in the afternoon sun. I recall the feeling of textures and the girth of a tree in my arms as I tried to encircle it. I needed to touch the overlapping surface of the locust tree, to put it in my memory bank, where I can retrieve it when wintry days become anxious and lonely. Eventually, I realize what I searched for in September. Every new day in this quest twists and turns in on me as I search for the form that would be perfect for my September poem. I begin to visualize myself as a whirling dervish. I swirl in circles, round and round, and my feet are on sifting and shifting sand all the time. My thoughts race far faster than I could ever write. My entire body quivers inside because of all the raw sensations that this month gives me.
I realize September is the one month of the year that is a charade. She is undependable, captivating, and quixotic. She cannot be captured in the pantoum I had intended to put her into. I think, I’ll catch her by a sliver of one of her yellow petals! Then, I’ll flatten her out between the pages of a villanelle. But as it turns out, she becomes a book of sand, and I simply cannot get a grasp on her!
This morning, I tried to put some words to my paper. I had to step over obstacles of images and feelings. I said, “I have to just go after a little piece of September. I need to catch her unawares, and grab what I can. It might be just a fragment, or an adjective. Do it quickly, and run fast, bring that piece to my paper and slap it down with glue. I’ll have to use E–600 for this job! What will be large enough to hold uncooperative September?
“Yes! I’ve got it now. My tribute to September will be an ode. It will celebrate precocious September perfectly.” My “Ode for September” must be hefty and as unsettled as she.
My ten–line stanzas will be a passionate song about September, the whirling dervish.
Lynda McKinney Lambert lives in the rural Village of Wurtemburg in western Pennsylvania. She writes poetry and creative non-fiction essays. She retired from teaching as professor of fine arts and humanities at Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvannia, USA. Lambert’s first book, Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage was published by Kota Press. Her work appears in Spirit Fire Review; Indiana Voice Journal; Magnets & Ladders; Stylist; Breath & Shadow; Wordgathering; The Avocet; Proverse Hong Kong; Behind our Eyes: A Second Look – Anthology; and other literary journals and anthologies. She is also an actively exhibiting fiber artist. Major themes in her creative works are Nature; Mythology; Art and History.
Lynda McKinney lost most of her sight in 2007 due to Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. She creates her art work and writing projects via the use of technologies for the blind. The essay above is taken from her book Walking by Inner Vision.