Poem of the Week | November 25, 2019

This week’s Poem of the Week is “In November, Everything Departs” by Frannie Lindsay!

Frannie Lindsay’s sixth volume of poetry, The Snow’s Wife, is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press in 2020. Her others are If Mercy (The Word Works, 2016), Our Vanishing (Red Hen Press, 2013), Mayweed (The Word Works, 2010), Lamb (Perugia, 2006) and Where She Always Was (Utah State University Press, 2004). Her work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, The American Poetry Review, The Yale Review, Field, Plume, Under a warm green linden, Salamander, etc., and in Best American Poetry 2014. She was awarded the 2008 Missouri Review Prize. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She offers writing consultations, and teaches a poetry workshop on grief and trauma. She is also a classical pianist.


In November, Everything Departs


Behold the sunshine, draping
its already-weary cloak over the noon time
pond. Behold the peregrine’s gaze, clear
of rumor. Behold the brambled railroad track
at the end of wander.

Behold the black dog
watchfully curled around the soup bone
she’s worried down to its lifeless gleam.
Behold the plaid shroud
of her blanket.

I have been willing the finches to fall
silent and join the sullen
wet of the leaves. Willing my friends to keep
out of the way. Stars to keep out of the way
of the night clicking along

its rainy avenue. But behold, too,
the bosomy gloom of libraries. The lamps,
so earnest and adequate over the little desks.
I can bear to look as happiness fades
from its tedious season. I can endure

each vesper bell tonguing against
its brave lip; the thrill in words like reckon,
atone, and widow. How they are each others’
encrypted siblings. The things they know.
The things they harken.


Author’s Note

My husband died after a long illness just over a year ago. The past twelve months seem to have divided themselves, not so much into stages of grief, but into depths of comprehending loss and widowhood.

I remember the gloomy, late afternoon fall walk that inspired “In November, Everything Departs.” The familiar world of the reservoir where I walk my dog had about it a glimmer of grave but rich loneliness. In the early sunset, each living thing in the natural world seemed utterly separate. I think it was then that I first contemplated widowhood earnestly and without self-pity. The loss presented itself somehow differently, not as a void but as an open space welcoming my habitation.