Class of ’22

I found a vale of spring at summer’s end
Before the trees had changed their green to gold.
I plucked the fruit of fall and hiked the path
To watch the harvest fire in the cold,
To see your faces flicker with the flame
Of youth that takes no thought of growing old.
I loved you then, before I understood
The secrets that a hidden vale can hold.

Then came the time for battle on the court,
For sweat and tears and glory lost and won.
In victory, we raised a shout to see
The enemy outmatched, the clock outrun.
That was the month of autumn’s final stand,
Of burnished auburn blazing in the sun,
Of leaves collected where they fell to mark
The resting plots of souls whose day was done.

Then Winter came and chilled us with a sigh.
Upon the wind he cast his song of woe.
We wandered through the streets of Christmastown
And heard the saxophone play sweet and low.
By day, you took up arms and waged cold war,
Where kindred souls could turn from friend to foe.
By night, you slept, while all the pines kept watch,
Their weary shoulders laden down with snow.

Then came the knife-twist on the edge of spring,
The news a sudden shock so cold it burned;
An icy dart to make the spirit numb,
A stab of treason when our back was turned.
And we remembered then that we are dust,
That lesson that must always be relearned,
Reviving us to seek that holy peace,
That healing grace for which our hearts have yearned.

But Winter knew his time was growing short
As March limped on from gray to blue to gray,
As Easter’s flowers shivered with the last
Convulsive gasp for power snatched away.
And so, like waking from an endless dream,
The month of April melted into May.
And all at once, we thought of all we’d left
Undone, all that we’d meant to say.

I left a vale of spring at summer’s dawn,
When all the lilacs were about to fall,
When all the feast had faded all away
Around the old eternal banquet hall.
And still, I thought I heard you in the wind,
I thought I heard you in the love-birds’ call.
So, with an aching heart, I said goodbye
And hung another year upon the wall.

Bethel McGrew

Bethel McGrew is an American freelance writer whose work has been spotted in outlets on both sides of the pond, including Spectator UK and USA, The Critic, First Things, Plough, American Conservative, and more. She maintains a Substack, Further Up, blogs at Patheos under Young Fogey, and tweets compulsively @EstherOfReilly. She attends a dramatically tiny ACC church in an undisclosed Midwestern location, where the prayers of the 1928 BCP are still spoken and the songs of the 1940 hymnal are still sung.

'Class of ’22' has 1 comment

  1. October 11, 2022 @ 3:25 pm Cynthia Erlandson

    Very beautiful! “Of leaves collected where they fell to mark / The resting plots of souls whose day was done.” is especially poignant, as is the exquisite final line.


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