TCS Daily

Texas Autumn (Veteran's Day, 2006)

By Frederick Turner - November 16, 2006 12:00 AM

And now it's time to celebrate Fall.

From the high silent mesas of Chalk Ridge

All of Texas lies resting in the mild brief days.

Under the blue sky its cedar barrens, its quarries,

Its small towns with their absurd courthouses,

Its forests of soft golden post-oaks with their fringes

Of brilliant scarlet sumac, its enormous swales of prairie,

Its groves of dustblue live-oaks where walk the lightfoot deer,

Its skyline of further low mountains, its lakes and stocktanks

Glittering and blue in the sun, and through it all

The endless serpent of the shadowy valley of the Brazos—

It all lies basking in what last warmth falls from the sun.

And driving through Texas in that sweet, sweet Fall weather

It is as if you were fleeting through the last years of your life.

And you don't mind really, because it all had to go anyway,

As the Comanche raided and feasted and danced by the fire

And fought in the cold winter winds and perished and passed away--

And the back roads in their tunnels of golden leaves falling

And the small furniture stores closing, and the little crowds

In the squares to celebrate Veteran's Day, and the caved-in barns

And the honey-sour smell of the leaves that lie in the culverts

And the lovely sweet hues of the prairie settling in for the winter

All speak of what must be defeated, and pass, and be garnered up

In anecdotes told in the emptying barbecue-pit before you go home.

And there lies Texas, beaten again in the last election,

Always the ones who stood up and put on their hats

And went out to fight when honor called on the nation,

And rushed into places they never did understand,

And got us all into trouble, and got us all into history,

And made us feared, for after all we were never quite sane anyway,

And gave the nation its character, the horse and the rider,

The brand and the saddle, the endless ancient frontier.

And they'll come back in the Fall, the eternal Texas soldiers,

Alive or dead, and the bands will play on Veteran's Day,

And the sun will preside over the sweet dry Texas autumn,

And the leaves will fall, all except for the bitter old cedar

That sinks its long roots into the limestone and will not let go.

The author is a philospher and poet who teaches at the University of Texas at Dallas. His latest book of poetry, The Prayers of Dallas, has just come out from Turning Point books.

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