Twilit Pockets

For as long as I can remember, each year in the fall, I experience a moment of pause. The moment is fleeting but distinct – a short and sure feeling of change.

I spent the afternoon today resting and recovering from a long stretch of teaching. The weather in Tokyo has been balmy and windy for the past several days. The heat, humidity and frenetic movement had rendered me distracted and exhausted. Late this afternoon I practiced a slow, low to the ground hip opening sequence. Feeling half refreshed and fully grounded I set out for long walk at dusk. The air had shifted from the warm sunny day. I walked longer and farther than I had planned, and at a much slower pace than I usually walk.

It happened on the way home. Rounding the corner, half a block from my apartment building I looked up at the half moon, growing again into fullness. I stopped. I stood for 40 seconds maybe, but could have lingered for an hour, quietly sipping the cool air. Edward Hirsch describes it best in the excerpt below from his poem "Fall." I undoubtedly felt, as I do every year, "something invisible and weightless touching (my) shoulders, sweeping down from the air."

Everything changes and moves in the split second between summer’s

Sprawling past and winter’s hard revision, one moment

Pulling out of the station according to schedule,

Another moment arriving on the next platform.  It

Happens almost like clockwork : the leaves drift away

From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,

Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving

Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,

Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.

And every year there is a brief, startling moment

When we pause

in the middle of a long walk home and

Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless

Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:

It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;

It is the changing light of fall falling on us.