Deadfall chestnuts idiotically signal the arrival, come June, of the messiah. Wood-grainy voices of old acorns and walnuts combine to roar imminent salvation. Black oak, crabapple-blossom, ironweed and sweetgum, angel cap of death and rambling roses, all declare annunciate that time will end with Gaia’s next undying June perfection. This Solstice Station marks the End of Line.
Seasons cease, the Wheel is locked all life at once emergent and at peak. Nature’s now the infinite/eternal. Never die means never wilt, no brown decay, no sweet decomposition. Stopping time means flat white light of no-change never-shadow. No more over-green of vines, no more ripe-past-summer fullness, no underfoot-leaf sacrificial victims. No curled dry dropping petals, no bruised windfalling fruit. No fermentation, no more wine. No food for worms or ants. Death no longer cool and kindly waiting to receive, Sun condemned to long-life bulb and Moon reduced to night-light, plastic comfort. Un-Death finds its victory in eternalizing summer, in prayer for perfection, in static still deliverance from all sorrow loss and turning.
Save us from salvation and petition now for Autumn! Conjure rot and shadow, put your shoulder to the Wheel. Witches, light the bonfires, call the vultures, seek the bones. Welcome Laughing Lady, Queen of scythes and skulls and crones.
3 Questions for Wren
What was your process for creating this work?
This piece was born at the beginning of August, when it’s still summer but I can begin to sense the Wheel turning toward autumn. Daylight slants just a little more sharply in the afternoon. All the plants are still green but everything is starting to feel a bit worn and tending almost imperceptibly toward Fall. The first line fell into my head during a walk around my yard. A few days before, I had been generating random word lists as prompts, and one had included chestnuts, idiot, and June. After that first line, the rest of the piece came relatively easily from imagining all the gifts associated with decay and enjoying that imagery.
What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?
I love mythology and sometimes write what I call hymns or prayers for gods and goddesses or other mythological figures. They are essentially prose poems that I think of as descended from odes or songs. I place this piece into that category, although it is less a hymn than an announcement and “call to action.” It calls for appreciation and gratitude for decay. It’s a defense of loss and death and shadow as essential to life, and a reminder that the opposite of life isn’t death but a sort of static bright unchanging un-death (the thought of which terrifies me).
What is the significance of this work to you?
Experiencing the cycle of the seasons has always given me so much in terms of beauty and pleasure and spiritual energy. This piece tries to give witness to the beauty of decay in autumn and express my horror at imagining the absence of cyclic change. It is informed by a deep connection to myth and the Wheel of the Year. Maybe it honors loss in all its forms, beyond what is directly referenced in the piece itself. It’s perhaps no accident that I have been writing about memory and loss of family members during the past few months.
Wren Donovan’s writing appears or is upcoming in The Dillydoun Review, Cauldron Anthology, Survivor Lit, Hecate Magazine, Tattie Zine, Luna Luna Magazine, Minison Zine, and elsewhere. She also reads history books and Tarot cards, and often talks to cats. Wren studied literature, Classics, folklore, and psychology at Millsaps College, UNC-Chapel Hill, and University of Southern Mississippi. She lives in Tennessee among many trees and can be found on twitter @WrenDonovan.