It’s odd to have a separate month. It
escapes the year, it is not only cold, it is warm
and loving like a death grip on a willing knee. The
Indians have a name for it, they call it:
“Summer!” The tepees shake in the blast like roosters
at dawn. Everything is special to them,
the colorful ones.
Somehow the housewife does not seem gentle.
Is she angry because her husband likes October?
Is it snow bleeds softly from her shoes?
The nest eggs have captured her,
but April rises from her bed.
“The beggars are upon us!” cried Chester.
Three strangers appeared at the door, demanding ribbons.
The October wind . . . nests
Why do I think October is beautiful?
It is not, is not beautiful.
what is there to hold one’s interest
between the various drifts of a day’s
work, but to search out the differences
the window and grate—
but it is not, is not
I think your face is beautiful, the way it is
close to my face, and I think you are the real
October with your transparence and the stone
of your words as they pass, as I do not hear them.
* * * * *
Poet and teacher Bill Berkson is professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he taught art history, art writing and poetry. He is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including Our Friends Will Pass Among You Silently (2007), Goods and Services (2008) and Portrait and Dream: New & Selected Poems (2009), in which the above poem appears.
He has won numerous prizes, including the 2008 Goldie for Literature from the San Francisco Bay Guardian and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fund for Poetry, the Poets Foundation. Portrait and Dream won the 2010 Balcones Prize for Best Book of Poetry.