"Abra was ready ere I called her name;
and though I called another, Abra came."
When I was little,
the dog and I followed my father into the woods.
He was enchanted,
and he allowed me to become enchanted in turn.
The smell of wet leaves sweetly drugged me.
Black-bark trees lean across every dream I have ever had since,
like middle-aged women toweling their hair after a bath;
you look at them, witchy naked and year-rich,
and they don't blink, don't cover themselves,
they just let you decide
within yourself, girl,
whether their dark eyes have that family pull you'll know is yours to get lost in.
My father was like a 30's gangster car
if it were full of books and papers, radios and a gun moll.
He was from Schenectady, New York,
and his mother had been a local beauty to be reckoned with.
This is the daddy I like to recall--
stepping over a mossy log,
telling the dog and me about a black bear he once saw--
my atheist father in the woods, in love with God.
Here in Michigan, in the autumn,
the vines that wrap themselves around the oaks and silver maples
wearing shawls with colors for the first time distinct
from those of their lovers.
I feel it, every September,
this restless longing of a northern heart caught in an ice stream's spell
of wolf and weather, fox and freeze.
My father told me the story of the wolverines,
gone from these woods a hundred years;
loping angel-devils, my sisters,
carrying in their coats a memory I have stayed behind to find.
the two lines in italics are from a 1718 poem by Mathew Prior, and are also quoted in John Steinbeck's "East of Eden".
for the Real Toads mini-challenge: "September Sky". It is 41 degrees here this morning.