What Else by Carolyn Locke

The way the trees empty themselves of leaves,

let drop their ponderous fruit,

the way the turtle abandons the sun-warmed log,

the way even the late-blooming aster

succumbs to the power of frost—

this is not a new story.

Still, on this morning, the hollowness

of the season startles, filling

the rooms of your house, filling the world

with impossible light, improbable hope.

And so, what else can you do

but let yourself be broken

and emptied? What else is there

but waiting in the autumn sun?

What Else

Yesterday was autumn equinox, when the hours of light are equal to those of darkness marking the advent of this ripening season for us.

Locke tells us the particular ways that this season announces itself – the trees dropping their leaves, their fruit, the way the turtle abandons the sun-warmed log, how the aster is felled by the frost – this is not a new story she reminds us, this is how the wheel of the year turns time out of mind.

It’s true how the air has a different feel, not just temperature, but a sense of emptying out while at the same time filling the world / with impossible light, improbable hope. The soft light of autumn has a luminous quality not found in other seasons which also holds for me the seemingly-unlikely promise of hope that life continues even in the dying of the year.

And so, what else can you do / but let yourself be broken / and emptied? I love questions like this that can scarcely be refused. Can we allow the endings of the season to open us to new possibilities? And now we are waiting in the autumn sun, waiting for what may unfold next with that shawl of warmth against our necks.

What else is there but to be in the moment, alive and aware of all that is transforming around us. What else? What else is there?

I’m including a link to this poem, a lovely tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg https://www.rattle.com/in-the-steps-of-rbg-by-rosemerry-wahtola-trommer/

11 thoughts on “What Else by Carolyn Locke

  1. I love this poem Jan. Fall is so beautiful and the changes that take place are definitely “not a new story”. The air feels different and it even has a different scent. I can always tell that Fall is here by the different smell. And “what else can you do but let yourself be broken and emptied?” There’s always a certain sadness for me in the Fall as it “leads us into a time of being empty”. “But what else is there” ” but to be in the moment” bringing us awareness of the transformation of everything around us, including ourselves. Thanks again for always finding the perfect poem for the moment. xoxo
    And such a beautiful writing by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and comment by Rosemerry Wohtola Trommer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Willa, Glad you enjoyed this poem. I don’t have an email list – your mom can simply subscribe to Heart Poems on the top of the page on the right hand side. Thanks for your interest! Janice

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  2. Glad to hear this poem spoke to you Sandra as it did to me. Also the poem is actually by Rosemerry not Ruth – there were so many written about Ginsburg but this one caught my eye. love Jan

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