Autumn Day


after Rilke

The summer has gone on
past the point of expectation.
In the afternoons now, the ngaio
shades the fish pond.
Soon the first autumn wind
will gust up from the harbour.

It is time for us to gather
the last small peaches;
for the currants to ripen against the fence,
another day or two
pressing sweetness into the fruit.

She who left will not come now.
If we see her at all
it will be by chance, among dry leaves,
and she will not know us.




I was weeded, undesigned,
I caught nothing but garter snakes.
A wastrel, whale-headed, I was racy, roving.
I was lacey and needy, sober and serious.
Owl-like and shrew-like, I was waiting for news.



These poems were written while Anna Livesey was the 2003 Schaeffer Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. ‘Autumn Day’ is a very loose translation of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.