Every November melancholy sets in, like a yawn that doesn’t satisfy a yearning for more rest.

Sometimes the yawn comes, not because I need more rest, but because the memory of the peace of sleep lingers in the muscles of my eyes and jaw. The melancholy comes, not because I lack, but often due to the memory of something I can’t quite pin down or identify.

The melancholy can twist me up inside, but if I surrender to the yawn of it, delicious stretch of heart and mind, I can find the beauty —even joy —in the sweet, mysterious longing.

In November of 2019, I was washing dishes at the kitchen window. The day was gray and humid. Russet leaves took turns surrendering to the heaviness of the air, spinning fall to the ground.

The poem was already finished in my head before I dried my hands.

The words were a gift.

Note to readers: When writers tell you “the words were given to me,” it’s not false modesty. We receive the words. Sometimes the words work their way through the reasoning, dodging logic and order. Sometimes they’re a garden in our dreams. That day, the words fell, like oak leaves on a gray November day.

I return to this poem every November because the words suit the melancholy that yawns and pulls on my heart every fall.

As sunlight diminishes for the next 47 days, I hope you find the words, the moments, and the light to hold you through the melancholy, because, every November melancholy comes.

The Poem for Every November Melancholy

What if in the end

What if we fall like leaves,
sometimes pulled by a gust,
sometimes pushed by our tree because it’s time?
Slow somersaults through air
cushioned landing and a tumble across the brown grasses,
until, in stillness and decay, we break down,
sinking to the roots,
feeding the tree that held us for a season.
In the end,
would that not be beautiful?
Would that not be enough?

What if we shoot like stars,
sometimes dust, sometimes rock,
bursting through the atmosphere,
falling in streaks of wonder,
Wow, look!! Did you see that?
echoing in waves, cheering our final brilliance,
our trail of light,
as we burn away in the dark sky
or plummet heavily into the soft earth.
In the end,
would that not be beautiful?
Would that not be enough?

What if we’re more than we can understand,
more than words and creeds,
more than books can teach?
What if we’re both
ancient and young,
timeless and transient,
connected to the trees and earth,
the stars and the milky way?
What if in the end
we’re everything and everywhere?
Or maybe just this once, this place?
Would that not be beautiful?
Would that not be enough?

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023