Poetry Friday: “Last Autumn”

This poem was first shared on Oct. 25, 2013 – about a week or so after I returned home from my very first Highlights Foundation workshop. If you have never attended one, I highly encourage you to do so; they are as inspiring as they are educational.

I’m re-posting this poem today not only because we are approaching fall (the first day of autumn is one week from today!), but because I just learned this week that I will be attending my SECOND workshop next month – with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard. I’m so excited to see them, my Flashlight Night editor Rebecca Davis, and so many others who will be attending!

This poem was one of many inspired by my time there in Honesdale, PA. I hope you like it….

photo courtesy of Pat Cooley

“Last Autumn”

Do you remember
when we almost got lost
down by the creek
near that old stone wall?
It all started with an apple.

One of us (I don’t recall)
had twisted the season’s last McIntosh
from a withered branch.  Sharing
small bites, we ate
all the way around
save for a dark blemish where something wild
and hungry
had gnawed its flesh.

Tossing the core deep into woods
we ran across the field
for no reason
other than to run
and laughed
for no reason
other than to laugh.

When we finally reached the creek
(were you first, or me?)
remember how we spent our time
dodging briars
walking the rocks
and making sure neither fell onto the slick
smooth stones beneath
the glassy current?
Table Rock, we called it, flat and mossy
under a beech tree rose
up to meet yellowing leaves
wind chimes
to a silent song.

I helped you onto the stone
or perhaps you helped me
and we sat there
talking of fish
and books
and apples
while the call of a lone wood thrush
made melody with the water.
For a time, we simply listened
because our ears wanted to
because our eyes needed to
and before we knew, color had disappeared
from leaves,
the warm October breeze had cooled,
and Venus was peeking out
from behind pale sunglow.

Not sure how we had gotten there
but knowing enough to follow the creek
I helped you
or you helped me
down from the rock
and we wandered back
retracing steps
under trees, over stones
only this time
as friends


And it all started with an apple.

Do you remember?

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine


For all of today’s Poetry Friday happenings, please visit The Poem Farm, where my friend Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting the roundup. I also hope you’ll check out my review of the local state fair, where I work each Labor Day Weekend…between death-defying motorcycles and poop-emoji plush hats, it’s always a learning experience!


Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)


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67 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Last Autumn”

  1. Wonderful! The setting might have been in my home state of Arkansas. As a child, I walked barefoot on the “flat, mossy rocks” in mountain streams. I like especially the line “a lone wood thrush made melody with the water.”


  2. I love these kinds of poems, evoking memories of whatever kind, & you’ve brought in the apples again-might be a project, Matt! I love that kinship you showed us, a connection of these two, young friends, or lovers-the image is so strong. A favorite line: “wind chimes/dancing/to a silent song.”


  3. “It all started with an apple”

    Maybe you need to write an apple-themed book, Matt! They keep popping up in your life.

    Some lovely images here, like: “yellowing leaves
    wind chimes
    to a silent song.”


    1. Thank you so much, Mary Lee – I’m humbled by the comparison. Although I love Frost and am familiar with many of his poems, I’d never heard of “West-Running Brook,” so I just looked it up. I can see the similarities, but they certainly weren’t intentional! (In fact, I’m very surprised at his poem, because he was a critic of free verse and openly stated his dislike of it.) I’m going to go read some more!


  4. lindabaie

    I am sorry to miss the workshop this year, Matt, & how wonderful that you will be there again. That 2013 time is a special memory for me. Your poem is wonderful, especially that last part, now friends.


  5. I think I missed this when you originally posted it. Love it — beautiful, lyrical, deeply felt. As others have mentioned, the emotions you recall ring true. Your wonderful images really transport the reader to that special time, and I like the intimate tone you created via direct address. Have fun with the two Rebeccas and Georgia at the retreat. 🙂


  6. Really lovely, Matt – thanks for sharing. I have many memories and several poem-starts with roots in those very woods! I’ve been lucky to attend a few poetry workshops (you are going to LOVE this particular one!) and an illustrators workshop up there. Will be with you all in spirit for this one and look forward to pix!


  7. Diane Mayr

    I like it just as much, if not more, the second time around!

    It’s too bad I didn’t know you were going to Highlights in October–I would have let you drive! 😉


      1. Have you considered applying for a scholarship? With the plethora of home issues and vehicle problems we’ve had this year, I applied for – and received – a partial scholarship to help pay for the tuition. I’d definitely consider doing so next year!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Linda Mitchell

    A delicious poem. A romantic poem…from your memory…or was it mine? Delightful!

    “wood thrush
    made melody with the water.”
    such a pretty, pretty line.


  9. Love these lines:
    “For a time, we simply listened
    because our ears wanted to
    because our eyes needed to..”
    And I love the lure of autumn, just beginning to beckon with a few colors her and there.


  10. margaretsmn

    Lovely poem. I can imagine that a Highlights workshop is much like this walk in which you help someone or someone helps you and you become fast friends all because of an apple or a poem about an apple. I’d love to make it to this workshop. Maybe one day I’ll retire from teaching and be able to go.


  11. amyludwigvanderwater

    I love the running and laughing just because…and the not remembering specifics, but knowing so truly that it is not the specifics that matter… Just lovely, and now I want to get outside. Fall is so beautiful here…wishing you great autumn memories and a fabulous time at Highlights!


  12. Pingback: Poetry Friday: A look back at a Highlights workshop poem, “The Apple Tree” – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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