Friday, November 26, 2021

Ode to Autumn


Ode to Autumn

In September
Autumn hides in heat waves
drops hickory and acorn hints
measures equinoxial nights and days.

In October
Autumn is primarily pigment
green gives way to red-orange-yellow
flaring, flaming, blazing, fading.

In November
Autumn reveals the bones of trees
draws our eyes to steely skies
to murmurations and hawks on lines.

In December
Autumn is largely forgotten
lost in the long-dark star-filled nights
leading to the solstice birth of spring.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Ode to Thanksgiving


Ode to Thanksgiving

You are a shameless celebration of colonialism and
the genocide of indigenous people,
a blatant celebration of excess,
a disgracefully blackened Friday celebration of commercialism.

And yet
you are also mom’s cranberry jello salad, plus
gratitude as full and round as the Beaver Moon,
the final leaf-raking,
and a cold after-dinner walk beside the river.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Friday, November 19, 2021

Ode to the Last Black Swallowtail Caterpillars in the Withering Jungle of Fennel


Ode to the Last Black Swallowtail Caterpillars in the Withering Jungle of Fennel

You are young
in the golden season of death.

Within your chrysalises
you will wait out the cold season of dormancy.

The sky will welcome you
in the bright season of flight.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rethinking Persevere is a Word

After reading this book, I thought again about what PERSEVERE could mean.

Rethinking Persevere is a Word

Persevere is a long word:

four hundred years long,

the distance of the Middle Passage,

the length of a ship’s hold, packed with bodies chained together.

And although persevere 

contains none of the letters that spell luck,

privilege shines through from beginning to end.

The privilege of tracing a blood line

for generation after unbroken generation 

in an ancestral story of ascension

rather than a lineage that dead-ends

in the shackles of slavery,

in lives with trauma encoded in the DNA,

in the knowledge that one’s existence

is not predicated on bootstraps

or an innocuous insistence to try again 

or the blithe assertion to summon grit

but instead dependent on ancestors who persevered

surviving horrors unimaginably severe

family members inhumanely severed from each other

per their owners’ whim.

Persevere is a light word for some,

a chirpy motivational poster word.

For others it is a heavy word,

a how-dare-you-assume word,

a claim-my-humanity,


lift-while-we-climb* word.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

*Angela Davis

Thursday, November 4, 2021

What Are the Chances?


view from the summit of Aldis Hill, St. Albans, VT

What Are the Chances?

Twenty percent chance of rain hung low and purple

over the shoulders of mountains splashed with the last 

of this year’s wash of autumn color.

On Aldis Hill, we took the Main Loop trail

hiking steadily up 

through stands of white-bark birches

and flutter-of-orange maples

in a silence broken only 

by a downy woodpecker’s hollow drumming.

At the summit, we stepped out from under trees

and twenty percent chance of rain had become a mosaic:

puffy white cumulus on a background of bright blue.

Across the valley, shafts of sunlight shone spotlights

on patches of red-orange-yellow trees.

Later, at Hathaway Point, we looked across Lake Champlain

and saw one hundred percent chance of rain headed our way:

one dark cloud with streaks of rain meeting the lake.

We could hear the rain on the lake

then in the trees

before we dashed for the porch at the ranger’s station.

When one hundred percent chance

was reduced to drips, 

a honking V of geese

at least fifty strong

filled the sky


the way


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021