Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rae Cailliach, "Autumn Wears a Red Dress"

Rae Cailliach was one of five readers to step up to the •chance operations• open-mic on October 29 at Duff's, 392 N. Euclid.

The next •chance operations• at Duff's reading will be Monday, November 26. Featured readers will be Chris Parr, celebrating the release of his new book of poems, Going to find it...; Julia Gordon Bramer; and Steve Schroeder.

Musical guest will be Tony Renner.

Doors at 7:30 p.m.; admission $3.00.

Advance sign-up for the open-mic following the featured readers is encouraged. Click here to sign-up via e-mail.

Autumn Wears a Red Dress

Autumn comes gaily clad,
Cooling the skin, but enflaming the eye;
She is the raucous harbinger of

Winter’s silent and unprotesting
Final death; the immodest,
Elderly grey,
Corpse to be concealed
Reverently beneath
Modest, white morgue sheets
Of snow and ice.

Autumn, she comes,
Crying and wailing;
Beating her chest,
Exposing her distress;
She can not be consoled,
Until that tantamont tango,
Naked and whole,
At last.

From the Debutante Spring
That grew like a wallflower;
Danced bare-legged and
Gawky limbed;
Rode her Papa's toes
Like an awkward colt.

Through to Summer ,
A Fine and Generous Lady
Ample bosomed,
Carnal and knowing,
Her skirts full and lush,
Fertile and green;
Her suitors, potent;
Her children, many.

Comes Autumn, then, finally,
Liberated from decorum and duty,
By the windsong echo of
Death-bone rattling drumbeats
Of thanks and praise;

Autumn dons her gayest dress;
Flaunts her harlot fashions,
Taunting like a Hollywood starlet
The phantom that approaches
To claim her last dance.

Autumn hosts a feast! A party!
A festive Big Easy Wake,
Held just before the
Last rites will be given.

Bare legged again,
But veined now, and thinner skinned,
Shedding her accessories
Coyly, one by one,
She boldly leads
Mourners dressed in riotous color;
And Dixieland bands,
Trumpets gleaming, toot sweet,
Through dream-soaked streets,
The Year’s last breath.

Dressed in bold finery,
With nothing to celebrate
But certain death,
The Old Year is carried jubilantly
On the shoulders of the parade
To the Midnight of the Seasons.

On this Eve
The pyre is lit;
The uninvited and the dead
Feast with the living;
And the soul of
The unborn New Year
Runs mad with prophecy
And redemption in the streets;
The Old Year's breathe rattles
Like kindling,
And She lays to rest
Upon the dead wood crackling orange
Against the black night.

And Autumn wears a red dress
To the funeral.

-- Rae Cailliach

Author's Note: This was originally written just after Katrina and dedicated to the annual Red Dress Run in New Orleans (which actually occurs in Spring.) This is a poem that seems born (or borne) by hurricanes. I finished this and read it on October 29, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy was arriving in New York City.

"Autumn Wears a Red Dress" © 2005, 2012 Rae Cailliach

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