Fall has come quickly to Colorado, moving us to ask our annual question “Where did the summer go?” (We never seem to ask “Where did the winter go?”) Nature does not pay any attention to our timetable – if the hay is not in and the geraniums freeze then so be it. The sunflowers and thistle have gone to seed which causes small clouds of finches to fly in front of me as I bicycle along the roads which are littered with innocent skunks who tried to cross at night. The grasses in our field are now yellow and red-purple and sway in a northwest breeze. Recent rains have dusted the mountain peaks in brilliant snow.
While biking my usual loop around the western edge of town I pass a church with a steeple too modest for the building’s size, looking as though it was put on as an afterthought, like remembering your raincoat as you leave the house on a cloudy day. The steeple leans away a bit from the winds that come from the mountain passes. It is the only visible flaw in an otherwise perfectly bland and box-like church. Surrounding the church are fields where I often pass small flocks of Canada geese feeding in the grasses. I can ride within a few feet of them while they stand perfectly still. They are wary but seem to sense I am no threat to them.
I have no faith or, I should say, I have no faith left for the edifices and organizations made for a God who seems to have deserted us. Like most human beings who once attended church and have read the Bible, I have questioned the existence of God or whether he existed once and no longer does. I ask myself what if I am wrong about my decision not to believe? In any case, my faith manifests itself in the certainty of the seasons and my belief that our earth is heaven despite our tendency to destroy each other and the environment.
I listen to the low, reassuring calls of the geese to one another, see the protectiveness of the elders for their young and their reappearance with new family members every spring. I watch the formations of geese honking through the morning mists and I am reassured by this enduring pattern of life.
The belling of geese foretells autumn
as they fly in that efficient wedge
over the church with the leaning steeple.
This morning they gleaned the sod
under the blue vault of Heaven.
These congregants gather in the field
of late summer flowers, leading goslings
christened in dew, not yet in black collars.
Under feather cowls, eyes of black peer
at We, The People, and watch for Eagle.
The ganders lead the bishops and brides;
the least are priests in this procession.
Soft flutings say “follow me” or “I am here”
calling close their throng of young,
for under lake weeds and muddy murk,
along the shore in high grass and rushes,
lurk mouths that rise and part the waters.
The insistent rise and call of notes,
from brassy honkings to low murmurs,
query and answer back and forth.
The changing light, a frozen dawn –
“Where are you?” is the gander’s question.
One night and they are gone.
Judy Robbins 2013