Jerry DeNuccio

Jerry DeNuccio
Location
Lamoni, Iowa,
Birthday
September 18
Title
Professor of English
Company
Graceland University

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Salon.com
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OCTOBER 12, 2011 8:34AM

Leave-Takings

Rate: 24 Flag

My backyard trees are autumn-adorned, brocaded in deep scarlet, reddish gold, honeyed amber, and sassy yellow—tongues speaking in hued accents a chromatic carnival of color, a retinal assault of beauty so rich, so dense, that, had it mass, its weight on my shoulders would bend my back.  I wish it would last, but, of course, I know it won’t.  I know it is conjured only to be eclipsed—a requiem, really.  I know that its very transience gives it its allure, that we treasure that which is soon to be lost.  And even as I gaze, leaves leap from branches, “leaf subsides to leaf,” and I know the rasp and pang of a difficult truth: the change of seasons has pulsed to life biological forces not to be denied, forces that transmit hormones that create abscission cells that cluster at the nexus of stem and branch, gradually unmooring each leaf until a breeze completes the separation.  The trees are unleaving.  The leaves are leaving, they are leaf-letting-go.  The leaves are leave-taking.  To gaze, directly and attentively, at something is to become entangled with it.  So it is with me as I regard the leaving leaves, watch their fluttering, pinwheeling plummet. I think of leave-takings of my own.

 

I think of my graduation from college, English majored, degree and teaching license in hand, and my wondering, Have I chosen well?  Is teaching meant for me?  And I found that I had, that it was.  I think of the morning of the day I was getting married, and Mom joining me in the kitchen for coffee and telling me she dreamed that she walked into the family room and saw that the goldfish had disappeared from its bowl.  And I said, “Mom, you don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to know you’re experiencing a version of empty-nest syndrome.  I guess we’ll have to call it empty-bowl syndrome.  And besides, be glad you didn’t find the fish belly-up. I am.”  And she laughed that laugh she had.  And I thought of how, many years later, she was carried away into the darkness of Alzheimer’s disease, where I was just a face without a name, before she finally, mercifully, got her wish and was carried away into a deeper darkness.  And I think of Dad’s  gradual decline after a punishing fall that left him lying on the hallway floor for more than a day before he was discovered, and the death certificate that gave as cause “Failure to thrive,” and my thinking that whoever wrote that stark sentence did not know my Dad.  And I think of my looming retirement, of the colleagues from whom I will take my leave, colleagues who have cared for and inspired me and never, not once, hid their light under a bushel; and students who have gladdened and saddened and maddened me and always, always pushed me, as I pushed them, to know more, to be better.

 

We are always leave-taking, it seems, always, in ways large and small, saying farewell, goodbye.  It’s the way of things, and it’s best not to deny the inevitable.  We live through, but we cannot dwell in, or on, a moment, a day, a season.  We cannot give ourselves over to pieces of time.  We are in them, but not of them.  Each moment arrives unfreighted and quickly departs, cargoed perhaps with yearning or joy or penance or rupture or hope.  We need to be beside ourselves, to view those shards of time from the outside, to step aside and back and out from them if their relation is to appear.  We are on the move, in motion, churning, always churning.  We cast a backward look, for that anchors us, but we move onward, for that completes us.  We unfold.  We go on going on We make ourselves cohere.  We gather the events and experiences and contingencies and set them to a plot, make them into a narrative, continuous and durable, whose revelatory theme is the who that we are.

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Comments

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Yes. Before my eyes ever fell on the words, I knew. This is magic.
Kathy's so right: magic. You're the finest prose-poet I have read here bar none, Jerry. r.
Beautiful raking and churning of all those truths I know, yet need to hear over and over. I love having you as the teacher of the never-ending lesson this morning, Jerry. (r)
This was a bit of gold on a gray morning and its message has real staying power.
This was the essence of your writng here : "We live through, but we cannot dwell in, or on, a moment, a day, a season. "
I've missed your writing.
You have a rare talent to paint a scene, to make the reader see.
I am grateful you choose to share that with us.
Can I offer a plea? A novel, perhaps?

(autumn is my favorite season, i have been away from it for half my life now)
I second Vanessa's plea.
My hope is that leave taking for you does not include a retreat from OS - your writing is exquisite and I am the better for your efforts.
Heart wrenchingly beautiful; deep in meaning and highly visual, thank you ~R~
Beautiful. You made me nostalgic for my undergrad years as an English major.
"We cannot give ourselves over to pieces of time..." I've a lump in my throat reading this rich, rich post. Rich in wisdom, rich in perspective. Thank you, Sir. Rated with admiration.
Balanced by every leave-taking is an arrival. The sadness of the one is quickly off-set by the joy of the other. The wheel turns......

.
"We cast a backward look, for that anchors us, but we move onward, for that completes us." That's the secret of course, and the best way to live; to keep one's feet planted firmly in the "forward" position, with only the occasional turn backward. Any other way and momentum is lost. I love your play on the word "leave." Even the leaves are leave-taking although they're far better at letting go than we are. As for your own leave-taking, I suspect your own narrative will be "continuous and durable." In other words, you'll thrive.
And what skycat said about arrivals is pretty nice too.
Whenever I click on your title, I prepare myself to either laugh or cry. This time I cry. The beauty of this piece is rivaled only by the riot of color our east-coast autumns supply. You are a genius with words.

Lezlie
This is my initial first `off the cuff' response.

Thanks. Autumn in Nova Scotia is beautiful.

I am taking a off-line break. I am a recluse?

But I am meeting local neighbors who care.

The neighborhood shows wonderful love.

Love can be very painful. But Love always.

I'm reading old books that I have underlined.

To read old (letter) comments has me wondering.

My thoughts are from `here-on-out . . . . private.

But I have been known to vow/pledge that often.
`
Maybe I'll read Jonathan Swift, Blake, Berry's `
`
Poems`
Blake never a bad man that didn't have a hidden
Noble
Potential`
`
Cato,
so-and-so,
Rousseau,
'Odyssey'`
Moody,
Gospel,
(good
news),
Nature.
Wendell Berry's books`
`
Leavings
essays,
poems,
people.

Good books.
W.B. Yeats Plays
Selected poems
`
Ribh in Ecstasy`
`
What matters thaT YOU UNDERSTAND NO WORD!
`
honest (That was an accident) I'll just leave it as is . . .
`
Doubtless I spoke or sang what I had heard
In broken sentences. My soul had found
Al happiness in its own cause or ground.
Godhead on Godhead in sexual spasm begot
Godhead. Some shadow fell. My soul forgot
hose amorous cries that out of quiet come
And must the common round of day resume.

Thank you.
As themes go, "revelatory" is definitely the way to proceed.
i had alzheimers (dad) and immense physical pain (mom)
to deal with
in my long ago days of being a son.

I am still a son.

those voices are permanent, and yet how,
as time goes by,
they change...

and their characters are melded, molded, into mine.

Have I chosen well? Is teaching meant for me? you ask.

there is no other way for a man such as you.
Congratulations on the E.P. well deserved!
This is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. -R-
I read 3x, each time this was more delicious. Amazing insight jerry, you teach so much.
Well, this is just one autumnal feast, a smorgasbord. So many layers, themes, truths. And for me, a new view of the value in the temporary and brief nature of this heartbreaking heart-filling time. Thank you. This was true gift and I will read and re-read and re-read. R
beautiful, so glad to see Jerry on the cover today, yes..!well deserved.
this is very help. This is really useful information. I have been looking for something like this for a while now. The codes are really helpful. Thanks for publishing this!

Thank you.
buying a house
This was amazing--yours is the the strongest case for "living in the moment," such a hard thing to do b/c real life keeps getting in the way.

Thank you.
This was beautiful, not just for the profound meaning, but for the gentle bounce of the words.
Perhaps autumn is a perfect time for pondering. So much you offer for pondering here as you help us think of "... the who that we are."
As always, you have a flair for using word play to create so many layers of meaning. Autumn is to me the most beautiful season in the Northeast--and so full of meaning. Thanks for that transcendent final paragraph--and its lovely metaphor of leaves in a narrative. Inspiring.