Poem for the Day: November 6th, 2021

Autumn by Grace Paley

1

What is sometimes called a
tongue of flame
or an arm extended burning
is only the long
red and orange branch of
a green maple
in early September reaching
into the greenest field
out of the green woods at the
edge of which the birch trees
appear a little tattered tired
of sustaining delicacy
all through the hot summer re-
minding everyone (in
our family) of a Russian
song a story
by Chekhov or my father


2

What is sometimes called a
tongue of flame
or an arm extended burning
is only the long
red and orange branch of
a green maple
in early September reaching
into the greenest field
out of the green woods at the
edge of which the birch trees
appear a little tattered tired
of sustaining delicacy
all through the hot summer re-
minding everyone (in
our family) of a Russian
song a story by
Chekhov or my father on
his own lawn standing
beside his own wood in
the United States of
America saying (in Russian)
this birch is a lovely
tree but among the others
somehow superficial

© 1991 Grace Paley. “Autumn” first appeared in Long Walks and Intimate Talks by Grace Paley and Vera B. Williams, which was published in 1991 by The Feminist Press at the City University of New York. It was later included in Begin Again: The Collected Poems of Grace Paley, which was published in 1999 by The Feminist Press. You can read more about Grace Paley and her life and work here.

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