A poem for October

October for me is the season of overwhelm. I’m the daughter of a college professor and now the mom of two kids, so the academic year has always been my life cycle. October is when you’re through the easy start of the year and everything kicks into overdrive; there’s no time to catach your breath until winter break.

I read this poem today, and it hit me hard, so I’ll share. Yehuda Amichai is a Hebrew poet whose work reminds me of Rilke, but not in a derivative way. Maybe it’s the result of reading them both in translation?


A Man In His Life
A man doesn’t have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.

A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
what history
takes years and years to do.

A man doesn’t have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.

And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn’t learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.

He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there’s time for everything.

– Yehuda Amichai