Late October - Grace Hughes Chappell

Eliot says April’s cruelest:
not so
here it’s October’s sun
coming in at you
in California slantwise
low in the sky;
too late for pruning roses, grapes picked
long shadows
animals on the move, gone to ground
sun glinting
people shifting about restless
spider webs spent nests fallen down
those that are going gone flown
Santa Ana winds
fire’s smoke in everyone’s throat
valley oaks rattling
black acres black by the millions;
what does it mean, the year is spent  ̶
what year
the one on the calendar
the one on our half of the globe;
how to say this lot is finished
over and done
our long exhalation
pain wrung out
those of us who move about
those who hope the way we hope,
now in October
here after fire

Grace Hughes Chappell is the kind of person who is approached by strangers in the supermarket who say, “You look like the kind of person I can talk to.” She’s never been sure what this look is that she possesses. When not listening to strangers tell their life stories, she writes, sings in a classical music chorus, and tends a sonnentannenschattenschrebergarten. She is lucky enough to live in San Francisco and luckier still to escape its fog and wind each summer at her Mendocino county cabin.

A regular contributor to, she has also been published in, Short Fiction by Women, Sunday San Francisco Chronicle, Every Day Poets, and others.  She has been rejected by The New Yorker as well as many other magazines too numerous to mention here.