Apr/May 2008 Poetry Special Feature

Autumn 1878

by Taylor Graham

Autumn 1878

For Elihu Burritt (1810-1879)

From your upstairs window,
you can look out at maples, bright
as the declining year. A bird—
is it a mourning dove?—
sits hunched, its feathers
ruffled against the cold.

From downstairs comes a muffled
chatter, your nieces
recollecting English times,
your widowed sister
rummaging collections
of those speeches you made

in Brussels, Paris, London's
Exeter Hall--Peace Congresses
that seem like yesterday. But
isn't everything just yesterday
to a man who gives thanks to God
that he could live so long?

There isn't peace yet—
as, in fall, an old man waits
for spring. But the maples
are even grander than they were
last year. All good things
take their time.


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