A Year in the Autumn, a sestina

The sweet and earthy scents of Pittsburgh autumn
Play havoc with my memory. Another year
Already gone by; clouds of warm air
And diesel smoke tangle with wind and rain
To stir the pot of my volatile consciousness. The thought
Of the past flickers in; it slips through the misty door

To revel with the present. The cathedral door
Bleeds with color and vividness, a smear of autumn
Life against the bricks. This season scrambles any thought
I may dare to have; nothing is certain this time of year.
Reality runs in drops and splashes in this rain
To fly about, unchecked, in the heavy air.

In no other city have I seen, heard, and felt so much. This air
Contains the bits of my soul that take flight without warning—a door
To another world, or many. The smells of falling leaves and warm rain
Evoke the greatest, and the lowest. Some say autumn
Smells like death. But it smells of beauty, fear, longing, God, a year
Of hope and fear and joy and love and grief. Of the thought

That there is so little about this world that I understand. I thought
I knew what it meant to see, only to find a place where the very air
Forces me to take another look. Has it only been a year?
A breeze blows me, eyes closed, to a new door,
Or perhaps an old one, a door my soul knows but my eyes don’t. What autumn
Stood I here to look inside this place my eyes don’t know? What rain

Washed away the lie that things are always as they seem? This rain
Has echoes of that past that I can’t access, of a thought
Too far away to fully grasp, of a day in autumn
Just as today but of another lifetime, of that air
That I somehow know has reached my lungs before. Is that door
Closed to me? I want to connect a year

Of disparate memories that waken even deeper stirrings of my soul. Last year
Was never sure, never certain, never set. The pouring city rain
Wouldn’t allow for me to think that. I never met a door
I didn’t like or a path I didn’t itch to wander. A thought
Can be dangerous—beautifully, marvelously dangerous. Something in the air
Here carries me away, reminds me who I am, in the autumn.

This time of year can crystallize a thought,
Melt me in the rain, or spin me through the air.
Every shadow marks a door. I close my eyes and smell the autumn.

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