My seventh autumn in the western mountains
and letters from the capital grow scares.
At summer’s end when the unearthly
blue of hydrangea was everywhere,
friends filtered down from the north
en route to new lives and old.
Already night had begun its encroachment
on the long, florid twilights of July;
curtains would be drawn before our guests
had finished their dinner wine; disquiet ensued,
polite smiles traded around the room.
Later, we walked down to the river.
It is always the same: my friends speak
broadly of life. Once the talk
was of lust, ambition. Now, disillusioned
by one or two lean winters, softer
in the belly, some of them balding,
they speak more of philosophy.
What nights we have hear in autumn
when the wind turns harsh and blows
to flame every light in heaven.
For days afterward I consider how far
along my friends have likely journeyed.
In a month all is forgotten. How strange
it seems whenever I am drunk in autumn
I can dream of nothing but life in the capital.