Autumn Hymnal

Our last chance to be busy,
As days grow shorter
In a flourish of noise and color.

Riotous reds, yellows, and oranges
And the dying rays of the Summer sun.

I step onto the school bus on a Monday in September,
Twenty-one years ago,
Terrified.

But I have my sister with me,
And she’s just as scared as I am.
So I pretend I’m not afraid,
Even though I’m surrounded by strangers:
Each one bigger than the last.

Getting to our destination was easier than being there.

Once we’d arrived,
We were separated, my sister and I,
For the first substantial length of time
Since we were born.

It’s no surprise, I became nervous,
Anxious of every new event
Without the safety of my sibling.

But I pressed onward,
Despite the fear and loneliness
That ensnared me ever after,
Going as far as seeking out that strange unfamiliarity

So that I might have a chance to learn something new.

I’d like to call it courage,
But it’s probably just wishful thinking…

I can remember the leaves changing,
Revealing their accessory pigments
In the chill of October,
Seven years later.

I woke up and I’d lost religion!
Couldn’t find it anymore!

I remember having it,
When my grandmother took us,
To play games, eat cookies, drink fruit punch.
And to learn about God.

I wish I could have asked her where it had gone…

I had it with my brother as well,
When my soul was saved and I saw
The heads of pseudo-strangers being dunked
Into murky water,

Polluted with our most dire sins.

But God became mired within a web of deceit:
Entangled in the bias of my unmarked category.
And lost to me forever.

Now I prefer faith to religion…

In November, after a decade and four years,
Northeastern gales strip the world
Of its foliage, of its many-colored fantasy.

And I find truth again—
Perspective, agency, love for all things—
Among the barren branches
Rising above this beautiful and terrible naked Earth.

I am reminded of Autumns past:
Breaking bread and playing games
With those who molded me;
I am grateful for my family,
All the old friends, all the new,

All the opportunity awaiting in this life.

I am an amalgam, a distorted mosaic
Without semblance of rhyme or reason,
Cobbled together by the enigmatic hands of time.

And if I have hurt you, bless me with forgiveness,
So that I might forgive myself.
And if I have loved you,

Know that I love you still…

Our last chance to be busy,
When leaves fall,
When we feast together,
When birds fly far from home,

As days grow shorter
In a flourish of noise and color.

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