An early fall walk in the evening

IMG_6684What I remember best is the sharp smell of wild grapes
carried aloft in a warm updraft, their sharp tang a hint
of the coming winter, when their leaves would be withered,
their vines dried and their roots driven deep into slumber.

I know they don’t, but I wonder anyway—do they dream
and look forward to a wet spring and a warm summer?
Do they yearn for another year, to bear again their bitter fruit?
Do they think about waking, and then, knowing that they are awake,
do they bask in the knowledge that they are aright in their place
and placed aright by love’s design?

So much living, I think, for such a little tang on a last warm night,
there and then gone in a quick waft of air. But by then I’ve moved on
and am thinking, was it ever there at all?


It was actually on a bicycle ride when the scent of wild grapes hit us, so it is a small exercise of my artistic license to switch it to the simpler idea of a walk. It so happened that just after the grapes we climbed a miserable hill, the kind that is fun to mock afterwards but which you dread before you go up it—the long, steep and panting kind. But still, I was grateful: that hill afforded me a lot of time to think about those grapes.

Thank you for reading An early fall walk in the evening. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is of some wild grapes in the fall, taken at the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. To see my photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh blog.


Photograph, notes and poem © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge, The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its copyright owner.


Filed under Poetry

10 responses to “An early fall walk in the evening

  1. I live surrounded by vineyards, John. Your poem captures stages and fragrance and symbolism so eloquently, Smile.

    • Thank you, dear! I am ‘surrounded’ by two vines, a concord and a pink princess, both seedless. For some reason I cannot explain, the ‘crop’ this year was 3 times what it had ever been before hand! 🙂 Oddly though, I only get the scent of grapes from the wild vines which are rampant in some places in this area…so when I caught it that day it really impressed itself on me. I am jealous that you have so many vineyards around you. That makes me guess two of the most wonderful places in the world: Sonoma and Napa or close by. How’d I do?

  2. So much to love about this poem John, beautiful! Thank you.

  3. Read your poem sentence by sentence… feel so wonderful. Pleased to be here again John … 🙂

  4. I realized that I don’t know the smell of wild grapes, and this makes me want to find it

    • Once you get above the Niagara Peninsula I think it tends to be too cold for grapes, even the wild ones. Here they are getting to be a problem, worse than kudzu but without the reputation! 🙂