friday roundup: open letter to November edition

oak tree (wikimedia)

oak tree (wikimedia)

Dear November,

We used to be friends. Remember — how I loved your scraped and silvered beauty? You and your bare trees, your lonely moons. Orion low in the sky. That hush just before winter clicks into place.

I mean, I even chose you for my wedding day and, November, you delivered! I recall with such tenderness and gratitude your sun on that day, your warmth, which I took as a good omen even though you quickly turned to ice and snow. That is not a metaphor.

Then, you may recall, we had some rough years together. I won’t go into the details; you know them. Suffice it to say that our friendship cooled somewhat, or at least became complicated.

And this year — really, November? I’ve pretty much had it with your sore throats and sinus infections, your cars needing brake work, clinic visits, pharmacy wait times, and all your extra days off school. Not to mention your long nights which come earlier and earlier each day. And the other day, remember when I finally cried out to you (this was, you’ll recall, after waiting forever at the pharmacy to find out they only had a two-day supply of the second antibiotic, and I’d have to go back the next day for the rest): “That’s it, November! The only way you redeem yourself is if a book of poems shows up on my doorstep, like, now!”

And you… well, wow, you delivered (again). But did you have to include that author bio? — the one where the poet won a bazillion awards and on top of being a poet is a PhD psychologist in private practice and “lives in [redacted] with her husband and their three young children” — and from the looks of the author photo, all this by the time she was about twelve years old? Sheesh.

But if you think for a minute any of this can get me down you’re absolutely right you don’t know me at all. Besides the fact that mine are the problems of the privileged — this is forever in my mind — I have my defenses against you, November.

I have tea. With honey.

I have po-friends. Enough said.

And I have Mary Ruefle, who has an amazing mind and writes things like:

“I used to think I wrote because there was something I wanted to say. Then I thought, ‘I will continue to write because I have not yet said what I want to say’; but I know now I continue to write because I have not yet heard what I have been listening to.”


“(Words) are a bridge that, paradoxically, breaks isolation and loneliness without eradicating it.”


“I would rather wonder than know.”

and who writes an entire essay on two Emilys and an Anne (this Emily, and this Emily, and this Anne). All in this book.

And I have Gaston Bachelard who spends two pages on a door that is not quite open and not quite closed. TWO PAGES on a door left ajar. I adore that man.

And I have all my November Poems. Such as,

this one, and

this one, and

this one, and

this one, which (sorry – you’ll have to crane your neck or print it), November, I really think should be more readily available to us, but since I’m grateful for the experience of pulling down my mom’s hardbound Complete Poems of Robert Frost, and paging through until I found it, I’ll give you a pass.

And November, I know you think you have me up against the ropes now with two more clinic visits this afternoon and Thanksgiving around the corner and all that cooking. But I thumb my nose at you because my mom and dad are coming. So there.

Lastly, this: I am a sucker for beauty. Which is why, November, even though I’m really annoyed with you this year (not even ONE full week of school all month!!??) and even though our shared past is a bit of a hard road, thank you for the beautiful gold-upon-gold of the ginkgos that line my street. And for teaching me all you have taught me about keeping at it, and scraped/silvered beauty, and the peace of night coming early.


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