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Saturday July 2, 2022

Distant Gardens Withered in The Heavens

autumnal leaf by Sumi Dattaray

We have just crossed the Autumnal Equinox. It is time we bid farewell to the Summer of 2020 and usher in the autumn. I always cherish and love the equinox, vernal or autumnal, all just for the balance it carries with it. There are exactly twelve hours of the day and twelve hours of the night. Starting tomorrow days will begin to shorten, and the nights will grow longer till we almost reach Christmas Eve.

Act Two is over. We have just drawn the velvet curtain bow and the applause for the Summer. The old and wise trees dressed in deep summer greens is behind us and it is turning into that moment of silence once more. We now raise the curtain for the Third Act and welcome Autumn, as we may prepare for a climax. Slowly and softly, the sun, rain, and the wind will tinge the trees with gold, orange, and red.

Yet, this autumn is different. The last six months have made us more stoic than ever. We are tumbling every day, yet again rising to celebrate all the big joys etched in small moments.

Though not yet deserting their lofty branches in the gusts, solitary ones are starting to break loose from their branches to fly slowly and land softly close to the Earth’s face. The autumn melody will change the tempo from adagio to allegro at the divine hands of the conductor. The play will reach its climax with the maddening dance of fiery colors and floating leaves and prodigious fields baring all they have in the harvest months. You can let your eyes soak in the beauty of those scarlet sugar maple palms and the golden oaks than you’d ever braved asking for.  

Yet, this autumn is different. The last six months have made us more stoic than ever. We are tumbling every day, yet again rising to celebrate all the big joys etched in small moments. We have lost a million and preparing to face the uncertainty of the second wave. We are all actors and we must play our part with care to fight this together and hold our breath to say “this too shall pass”.

Right now, this minute, is my moment of joy as I celebrate the memories of my twenty-eighth autumn in the US. I am reading a prayer to myself written by my favorite poet, the same poem that I had read out as I had walked across the campus in Bloomington, Indiana, from Wylie Hall down the Dunn Meadow. A perpetual atheist still gathers courage from this poem. 

Autumn
Erich Maria Rilke
(translated by Jessie Lemont)

The leaves fall, fall as from far,
Like distant gardens withered in the heavens;
They fall with slow and lingering descent.
And in the nights the heavy Earth, too, falls
From out the stars into the Solitude.
Thus all doth fall. This hand of mine must fall
And lo! the other one:—it is the law.
But there is One who holds this falling
Infinitely softly in His hands.

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