Autumn in the yard we planted

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(Host) Vermont State Poet Ellen Bryant Voigt has seen the seasons change around her home in Cabot for 30 years.

Autumn in the yard we planted

Whoever said that I should count on mind?
Think it through, think it up–now that I know so much,
what’s left to think is the unthinkable.
And the will has grown too tired to stamp its foot.
It sings a vapid song, it dithers and mopes,
it takes its basket to the marketplace,
like a schoolgirl in her best dress, and watches
others ask outright for what they want–
how do they know what they want?–and haul it away,
the sweet, the dull, the useless and the dear.

A maudlin, whimpering song: in which I lament
my own children, scything their separate paths
into the field, one with steady strokes,
one in a rage. We taught them that. And,
not to look back: at the apple tree, first
to shatter its petals onto the clipped grass,

or the slovenly heads of the russet peonies,

or even that late-to-arrive pastel, all stalk
with a few staggered blossoms, meadow-rue-

though surely they could see it from where they are.

Ellen Bryant Voigt is the state poet of Vermont. This poem is collected in her book, Shadow of Heaven, published by WW Norton.

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