Monday, November 14, 2022

That Mid-November Dawn Murfin Verse Again

It seems like a good day to resurrect a poem that appeared in a slightly different form in my 2004 collection We Build Temples in the Heart published by Beacon Press, Boston.

The poem came to me early one morning on my daily walk from the Metra train station in Cary, Illinois to Briargate Elementary School where I was the Head Custodian.  After I opened the building and classrooms and hoisted the Flag outside, I grabbed a cup of bad coffee in the Teachers’ Lounge and set down to scribble a first draft.


Mid-November Dawn


The time has come,

            I know, I know.


The soft frosts that fade

            at the first blush of light

            are over.

            The grass snaps now

            with each step,

            the cold seeps around

            the buttons of my coat,

            up my sleeves,

            down my neck.


Of a sudden the leaves,

            just yesterday the glory

            of the season,

            are shed in heaps and drifts.

            The bare arms that held them

            Shiver in the dawn.


Long clouds of starlings

            swirl and trail across

            the lowering sky,

            crows clamor over

            carrion earth.


The time has come,

            I know, I know.


But just when the wail of grief

            wells in my throat,

            the keening for utter loss

            that crowds my senses

            and my soul—

a simple doe ambles unconcerned

across the scurrying road

into a remnant patch of wood,

somewhere just out of sight

the half-maddened buck

thrashes in the brambles.


The time has come,

            I know, I know.


My blood quickens in the cold,

            death falls away.


—Patrick Murfin


The then Not-So-Old-Man showing off his wares and ready to autograph copies of We Build Temples in the Heart at the old Congregational Unitarian Church in Woodstock back in 2004.

I have copies of We Build Temples in the Heart still available and will send you or your loved ones a personally inscribed copy for the low, low price of $8.  I’ll even pay the postage!  They make great stocking stuffers for your literate friends.  Or you can piss off your children by using it instead of a lump of coal—they will be just as disappointed and angry!

Message me privately on Facebook or e-mail and we can exchange postal addresses so you can send me a check and I can send you a book.  Such a deal!


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