No Walls of Stone

The Deadening of October

Anne McDonald

I've counted 58 days of roadside pumpkins,
70 days since my midsummer birthday. Ridges
and warts jut from my fingers
drumming pumpkins, over the Holyoke Range. Below
the Deerfield River spawns out-of-season
salmon. I think of St. Peter, the fishing-miracle,
what would he say to Jerome, patron saint
of librarians.

November, how shall I bless your partying saints?
I'm lousy at stirring that sacred punch. See,
angelic doctors, holy martyrs hover above the church
pillars while the congregation chants
the Confiteor in Polish and English.

What a long glide from March 25, Angel Gabriel's
feast day, to this deadening of October!
Yet I'm full of pumpkin seeds I might wreath
into some sort of halo. Tonight
we bring in the darkness an hour early. I amass
names from Lives of Saints, cling to them
until they turn up as bones on All Soul's.

In six days the temperature drops to forty.
I have waited by the gilt edges
of my prayer. Wearing a bleached dress, I lift
myself into the vison's descent.
My mother glows among the hosts and hosannas,
a hunting moon. My father has me back in the fold.

Wing Biddlebaum - Speaking About the Deaf Child

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