Pressing our favorite colors

It's the day before Halloween, and today is one of the most beautiful days of the year so far – sunny, cool, breezy, and the leaves popping with colors. The hickories seem especially bright this year, but I may have just forgotten how golden they always glow:


Several years ago when I was traveling across the hemispheres, I missed out on fall entirely. I went from spring to summer then right back to spring again, and later I wrote a song  about the seasons. One of the lines went, "autumn's arbor ashes rain in yellow, orange and red, and we keep our favorite colors presses in books beside our bed..."


I was hiking today around the bluff of the plateau and found several book-pressing- worthy colors.  


When I was a student, I had my mom's copy of Under the Sun at Sewanee, a book of noteworthy hikes and caves in the area. I remember opening the guide at college for the first time and finding leaves my mom had pressed in it, still drying between the pages 25 years later – sassafras, chestnut oak, maple.

I still enjoy pressing leaves. They'll fade and dry out, but it's always a pleasant surprise when opening an old book to find a little piece of the fall again stuck mid-chapter, reminding you that it was autumn at some point and the leaves were bright enough to inspire this one small attempt at preservation.

Poem: the gravity of the moon.

I wrote this poem several years ago and came across it recently. It was inspired by Alice Oswald.

                              Tennessee River, mile 455.2, 2010.

                              Tennessee River, mile 455.2, 2010.

Close your eyes.

Imagine the softest places -

light on petals resting, an infants sigh on a grown-up shoulder,

the white pocket inside your elbow,

a waterspider stepping on the surface of a puddle -

and put them aside. Now think of warmth.

The candle´s gold, the way two bodies fit

together, how to fall asleep in a cloud

of goose down...


Now marry the two. Laugh at their dance -

like flappers to jazz or bonfire shadows

in a fluttering trance. Spin them

and spin them in a cool silken web,

watch the dew gather like dreams

condensing on a pillow before bed.


Now untie these thoughts, one by one,

slip the loop deftly from its home in your head

and let them float away towards the gravity

of the moon.