Today I remember September:
The dust rising up as we walked,
Sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs,
Travelers all, from far-flung continents,
pilgrims on this particular journey.
Each day like a dream,
one after the other unfolding.
It’s true then, you never know
how something will change you,
only that it will. You hold
hands over vows you will break.
You close the door and lock
behind you empty rooms.
You drive away from work
you wanted so badly.
Every step on this hill to Panzano
a string of losses, until finally,
you begin to expect them,
not with dread or resignation,
but something like grace.
You will mourn and rejoice,
count the memories of loved ones
gone, catch the profile that catches
your breath. Years later find yourself
laughing mid-story, moved to tears.
We find ourselves, here, now
under the shimmering florescence
of a tiny butcher shop, chops and salamis,
roasts and marrow, the Blessed Virgin
looking on, just emerged from the quiet
olive grove, a spontaneous afternoon
feast spread on white linens, couples
in love, our faces now upturned
Dario’s voice cadence rising, falling,
Dante’s Divina Comedia, the soul’s
journey to inferno, paradiso.
Who lives like this? Indeed. Who?
This is the nature of things: beginnings
and endings, arrivals, departures.
The journey and the coming home,
coming home, coming home.
The face you always knew, suddenly
not your face, but someone else,
softened by love and afternoon light.
For what will I be grateful
when I lay this body down?
Each parting, sweet, particular, acute.
September is my favorite month. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s my birth month or not, but I should probably mention that. September was always the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, which I loved both as a child and as an adult teacher. It was the time of harvest, of moving on, of loss and gain. The primary narrative of this poem is a trip to Tuscany I took in 2010 with the poet David Whyte and 20 travelers, pilgrims, from around the world. It was a magical time for me: loving Italy again, learning about my birth father’s death, reclaiming my poet self, and the backdrop of the hills outside Florence on the verge of harvest was ripe in every way.
— From Somehow: New and Selected Poems, by Libby Wagner, Brassy Press © 2012