The ninth month of the year,
 before the Julians changed the calendar,
 promoting their household,
 claiming the glories of high summer for their own:

 ninth month,
 one could call it “term.”
 A welcome arrival,
 when development leads to fruition
 and fruition leads to birth.

 ninth month,
 pushed ahead.
 Relegated to the Fall-of-the-year,
 to that time when the glow of fulfillment
 has faded and the eventual closing-in
 and collapse of abundance
 starts to bite in earnest.

A time of lack.
 No light,
 no warmth,
 no harvest; but frost
 and a cold, silvery moon.

To the Julians
 it was clear
 they were claiming a high point for their age.
 They understood.
 After them would come
 a reckoning,
 a Fall,
 an Autumn.

This Autumn of ours
 caught us by surprise.
 This was not what we expected.
 No matter what signs and portents.
 Not so much….
 No matter;
 but we have grown so accustomed
 to looking ahead;
 ever faster,
 ever farther.

And always seeing,
 reflected in that deceiving mirror,
 only what we want to see.
 Visions of Augustan triumphs
 following each Julian consolidation of power.
 The results compound like the figures in our ledgers
 endlessly reaching for the impossible
 and seemingly getting there.

No wonder we did not see
 what we were forging,
 hidden inside our dreams,
 the only possible result of all our striving.

 Ninth month.
 Too late to mistake
 a mild afternoon
 for the return of harvest’s bounty.

Even as things get hotter,
 we experience so much of this
 as a descent into winter.
 Desert people would have a more apt image perhaps,
 for when the brief cool
 and moisture of a precocious Spring
 withers into a blazing dry and barren summer.

We enter this tale
 in November.
 We do not know
 where it leads.

We can only be certain
 it does not lead back
 to anything we would recognize.
 It is only after some far-off new Spring
 has accommodated with the ravages
 of this long, dead season
 that it can ever again become clear
 how this particular dark harvest,
 this slim chance of any regrowth,
 was necessary.
 That it could have been arrived at
 in no other way.

From here,
 all we can see
 is what has been lost,
 what continues to be at risk.
 All vectors head away
 from any possible promise.

 Ninth month.
 We do have practice
 at this sort of thing.
 We have often
 had to negotiate
 a time when good-news was scarce.
 When there were no
 signs of hope.

A good thing.
 We have always
 needed some way to adjust
 our proclivity to settle into expectations
 and wallow in the sterile seductions
 of maximizing our imagined delights
 at the expense
 of our real treasure.

Even now,
 this November upon us,
 it is dawning clarity
 that we are more alive
 in this time of contraction
 than in the queasy midst
 of heady surfeit and undemanding ease
 which brought us here.

We find our strength,
 instead of looking
 for some advantage.

We find each other,
 and in so doing,
 recognize what we’ve been
 so sorely lacking;
 what drove the manias
 that brought us

 Ninth month,
 no longer.


Originally published at on October 17, 2015.

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