A Song for the Seasons

— Harry Lafnear

Once upon a time,
we held firm to our pacts
with myriad little gods
whose sacraments
staved more than starvation.

We believed we bought
orderly seasonal rains
by burning a bushel,
or with a pinch of salt in the air,
or a drubbing on a wooden bench.
We weren’t sure
why the seasons turned.

Each autumn,
as even the farmer’s horse
sampled sweet breads
still warm from the hearth and
the farmer’s gentle hand,
the truth was never guessed.

That, being:
The fields caught in the spell
of sun and rain and soil
were draped as well
with incantations from
the minstrel on the hill,
the flutist in the hall,
and every Sunday hymn—
each sending a quiver
though the attending fields;
every note as nourishing
as the mists of Avalon
over every man’s Camelot.

But strongest of these:
the low voice of the farmer
huffing his tune at the plow;
the heady hum of the baker,
coaxing her batter to life,
lemon zest on her brow;
their sweetness begetting sweetness
beyond mere confection—
conducting the secret score
for the deep spirits of the earth
and setting a gentle craving for the gods
to keep spinning upon
the wheel of this jagged world.


Written for the Mission Chamber Orchestra of San Jose, for their Noteworthy Desserts event. The poem introduced a performance of Prokofiev’s Flute Sonata in D major, Op. 94, I. Moderato, with Jen’s Cakes lemon cupcakes & cream cheese frosting.

One thought on “A Song for the Seasons

  1. I really enjoyed the old feelings of once upon a time and the sweetness of their relationship to the meaning of the poem.

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