Goodbye, November

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Purgatory Is Nearer in November
by Josephine Jacobsen

November is beautiful as the word sounds, is gray, is bare,
Is compact of wind, of leaves blown and the thin, tall rain;
Brought back to our care are the dead in November,
and the air of these days is charged with their pain.

For these are not the free dead, not the remote, bright crowd
Of our picture-book, or our image of nebulous heaven:
These are caught, tangled in a web comfortless as a shroud—
These have not familiar place, nor flight, nor oblivion, even.

They have not escaped yet-they are close in the clouds massing together;
At the cold first drop you will stare on the dark ground and remember.
They are the accent of autumn, they are the source of the tone of this weather.
The heart is reached by the waiting dead, in their month, in November.

"Purgatory Is Nearer in November" by Josephine Jacobsen, from Contents of a Minute. © Sarabande Books, 2008. Reprinted with permission (buy now) on The Writer's Almanac.

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