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Harvest Monarch 

Autumn beguiles us in the manner of a softly rising romantic love,
a royal prince-and-princess ardor that is unaware and unself-conscious,
yet voluptuous with desire --
ambrosial fruit eager for a French kiss.
Our senses are bewitched,
not only by autumn's alluring raiment,
but also by our childhood nostalgia for it:
retrospective delight in the simplicity of a lone apple or a solitary stone;
a special hush in the woods;
the poignant call of a loon from the alcove of a hidden lake;
the sight of a yellow school bus
traversing a narrow strip of rain-soaked black macadam,
its verges filigreed with glistening leaves of topaz,
russet, woodbine and burnt umber.
Harvest Monarch,
trails a retinue of
mellowing orchards, drowsy vineyards, gilded hayricks,
mist-streaked indigo sunsets and low-slung,
old stone bridges that adorn empty, disconsolate roads.
Colors leap in fountains of fireworks in dense forests.
Summer crops are gathered in,
haying and harvesting gain pace and rhythm,
game is laid up in the hunter's larder.
Cider presses and fruit-picking energize the countryside
in this season whose golden cornucopia so much depends on a red tractor sitting
forlorn in a field of broken corn stubble and mud.
Like first love, our nostalgia for the season is a will-o'-the-wisp:
The feeling is only in ourselves --
Queen Autumn plays Boucher's Galatea to our Pygmalion.
In our unrequited love for the season there reposes a sadness
that is incomparably beyond melancholy
and a good deal older than God.

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Paul Mann

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