October Cider

The light breeze curls up in the gentle sun
and catnaps while we chatter in the orchard.

Last March I met this day or its twin sister.
Cooler than some days, warmer than some others,
it played the referee when cool and warm
met laughing in a friendly wrestling match.
The victor never was in doubt, but watching,
we cheered as Spring pinned Winter to the ground.

All nature then was breeding, taking breath,
drawing into herself the early sun
and all the moisture loosened from the frost.
She fed, and gave back nothing except beauty.

Now Summer drops her baskets to the ground,
takes Autumn by the hand, and in this orchard
they take the first slow steps in a soft dance
into the arms of frost, and frost will win,
and this day-sister must be referee.

We pick up Summer’s burdens, thank her kindly,
offer a toast to Autumn, and drink up.

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About Greg Bryant

I teach writing and literature at Highland Community College in northeast Kansas.
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7 Responses to October Cider

  1. ksnancy says:

    Nice images! I love all of it except for the first line which I think the poem would be stronger without. You show it with your images enough that you don’t need to spell it out (probably the thing I am most guilty of doing with my own poetry). I especially love the dancing images and summer leading autumn into a dance which she will win.

  2. Greg Bryant says:

    That’s interesting. The one line it almost never occurs to me to change or delete is the first one that occurred to me, the one that initiated the poem. At least in this case, it’s the least poetic line. Thank you! Now I just need to figure out how to preserve the pentameter when removing one and a half lines! It’s either that or throw out the meter altogether and go to free verse, which I’ll also consider.

  3. bryon says:

    This is beautiful. It gets even better on subsequent readings. I like the playful imagery of the seasons, and the idea of summer dropping her baskets. This is just really good. FWIW, I like the first line.

  4. bryon says:

    I should be more clear about why I like the first line. It isn’t, in the strictest sense, perhaps, a poetic line, i.e., a line that needs to be in this poem. It is almost a prose element in this poem, and the poem could, as Nancy says, do without it. For me, though, it sets the reader up to hear a story; it has a “once upon a time” quality which I found both charming and appropriate considering the story (poem) that followed.

    • Greg says:

      Also interesting. I’ll play around with this and see if I can set it up less prosaically. You put your finger on the difference. At first after Nancy’s suggestion I was thinking about taking out another prosaic element, that the breeze “slows down,” and making this the opening stanza:

      A faint breeze curls up in the gentle sun
      and catnaps while we chatter in the orchard.

      I’ll work on this a while.

  5. Greg Bryant says:

    Bryon, I think I’ll take Nancy’s advice here. The more I look at the prosaic quality of the original opening, the more I think it was just an outline. I’ve edited it as I threatened just above. I may play around with it some more if I see a way to present the “once upon a time” more lyrically.

    • bryon says:

      Eh, fine, don’t listen to me.
      But seriously, folks, I do like the way this starts now. I don’t recall the original first line, so I’m apparently not in mourning for it.

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