Piker Press Banner
September 26, 2022

All Our Faults Are Fallen Leaves

By Eric Robert Nolan

All Our Faults Are Fallen Leaves

Again an annual angled auburn hand
announces advancing Autumn --
fingers aflame, the first Fallen leaf,
As slow in its descent, and as red,
as flailing Lucifer.

Hell in our sylvan vision
begins with a single spark.
The sting of the prior winter
subsided in July,
eroded at August.
Now, as at every September,
let new and cooler winds
fan a temperate flame.

May this nascent season only
bring brick-tinted perdition
and carmine Abaddon.
Where flames should burn, may there be
only rose tones on wide wine canvasses,
tormentless florid scarlets,
griefs eased in garnet trees.
What I hold in my heart to be true
is Edict at every Autumn:
Magentas may not make
forgetful a distracted God,
unless we ourselves forget
or burn to overlook.

Auden told us "One Evening"
to "Stand, stand at the window,"
and that we would love our neighbor,
but he didn't counsel at all
about how we should smolder there.
Outside my window, and yours,
if the Conflagration itself
acquits us all by claiming only
the trees upon the hill,
the Commonwealth a hearth,
Virginia an Inferno,
Then you and I
should burn in our hearts to absolve
ourselves and one another,
standing before the glass,
our curtains catching,
our beds combusting,
our bureaus each a pyre.

Take my hand, my friend, and smile,
there on the scorching floor,
beneath the searing ceiling and
beside the blackening mirror
that troubles us no longer,
for, about it, Auden was wrong.
God's wrathful eye
will find you and I
incandescent. The damned
are yet consigned to kindness.
All our faults are Fallen leaves.
Forgive where God will not.

Out of our purgatory
of injury's daily indifference,
let our Lake of Fire
be but blush squadrons of oaks,
cerise seas of cedar, fed
running ruby by sycamore rivers,
their shores reassured
by calm copper sequoias,
all their banks ablaze
in yellowing eucalyptus.
Let the demons we hold
harden into bark
holding up Inferno.
All their hands are branches now;
all their palms are burning.

There, then, softly burning, you and I,
may our Autumn find
judgmentless russets,
vermilion for our sins,
dahlia forgiveness,
a red for every error,
every man a love,
every love infernal,
and friends where devils would reign.

(c) Eric Robert Nolan 2015

-- Author's note: the poem to which I've responded above, with its images of standing at the window and the mirror, is W. H. Auden's "As I Walked Out One Evening."

Article © Eric Robert Nolan. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-09-23
Image(s) © John Queen. All rights reserved.
3 Reader Comments
Lance T. Edmonds
10:47:44 AM
Nice poem, Eric! Something for those of us approaching the autumn of our lives to ponder.
10:26:41 PM
Thank you very much, Lance! :-)
10:14:31 PM
What Lance said. I like the way the poem builds a structure and fills all in with color images. I also learned what "Abbadon" meant. Not sure what "gamet trees" are. Those were cool lines in the "Auden' stanza. "all are faults are fallen leaves." I very much like the second last stanza. "Let the demons we hold harden into bark."
Your Comments

The Piker Press moderates all comments.
Click here for the commenting policy.