• Penny Harter


Though autumn has brought me both illness and loss over the years, it is still my favorite season. I can’t wait for the brilliance of the changing leaves, the continuum of cooling winds, clearing skies, brisk nights—especially now after this Covid spring and summer. Yesterday, birds brought me this new poem.

Practicing the Notes

The birds are beginning to migrate now

that autumn is here at last, the Equinox

marking the hinge from a long hot and

pandemic summer into cooler days.

Today in the East our skies are finally

blue, smoke blown away on the wind,

and flocks of blackbirds wheel as one

above the highway, then light on the

telephone wires, lining up like notes of

a score on a staff. I still remember my

six-year-old fingers stretching for octaves

on the keys of my music-teacher’s piano.

I mastered playing "Robin in a Cherry Tree",

with my right hand, then graduated to playing

"The Blue Danube Waltz" with both, learning

the rhythm and harmony of added chords.

My teacher rapped my knuckles hard with her

pointer, set the metronome, making sure I kept

time. But now it is autumn, the time of robins

flown with the spring, sunlight ticking loss.

The trees are turning late this year, random

yellow leaves flickering from the dense green.

Though fall is often a season of loss, I welcome

the change, pray for surcease of fire and flood,

of anger and violence, and of this rampaging

virus that hunts us all. I would practice the

notes the birds make, learn the score by heart,

and sing it daily as I migrate into hope.

© 2020 Penny Harter

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