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HALL, Donald

September Ode
The tree is burning on the autumn noon

That builds each year the leaf and bark again.

Though frost will strip it raw and barren soon,

The rounding season will restore and mend.

Yet people are not mended, but go on,

Accumulating memory and love.

And so the wood we used to know is gone,

Because the years have taught us that we move.

We have moved on, the Tamburlaines of then,

To different Asias of our plundering.

And though we sorrow not to know again

A land or face we loved, yet we are king.

The young are never robbed of innocence

But given gold of love and memory.

We live in wealth whose bounds exceed our sense,

And when we die are full of memory.


To grow old is to lose everything.

Aging, everybody knows it.

Even when we are young,

we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads

when a grandfather dies.

Then we row for years on the midsummer

pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,

that began without harm, scatters

into debris on the shore,

and a friend from school drops

cold on a rocky strand.

If a new love carries us

past middle age, our wife will die

at her strongest and most beautiful.

New women come and go. All go.

The pretty lover who announces

that she is temporary

is temporary. The bold woman,

middle-aged against our old age,

sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.

Another friend of decades estranges himself

in words that pollute thirty years.

Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge

and affirm that it is fitting

and delicious to lose everything.

The Corner

It does not know its name.

It sits in a damp corner,

spit hanging

from its chin, odor of urine

puddled around.

Huge, hairless, grunting,

it plays with itself,

sleeps, stares for hours,

and leaps

to smash itself on the wall.

Limping, bloody, falling back

into the corner, it

will not die.