The kind of September

Sitting in our little house
On a dirty-sky day.
The dog’s been walked
And so have we.
The sun is a yellow smudge
The atmosphere’s a smear.
We’ve turned on the air purifier
And are hoping it does its work well,
Filtering out the pugnacious little particles
That could take up residence
Inside our lungs
And bring about
An unpleasant demise.
Vigorous winds are exercising the trees
And you might think
They’d blow the pollution
Out to sea
(Poor sea),
But for some meteorological unfathomability
Everything’s staying put
And the winds,
Along with high temps
And low humidity,
Increase the danger of fire
(Oh my).
So it is another of those waiting days
When we jump
At every siren we hear,
Check the AQI ten times an hour,
Take a stab at reading
But cannot concentrate,
Breathe as little as possible,
And try to remember
The kind of September
That didn’t choke us with smoke
Or give us the inflammatory jitters
But instead led us
Through lengthening afternoon shadows
And daylight growing quietly golder
To October’s majestic front door.

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s newest book is And What Will We Sing? a collection of protest and social justice poems spanning the last 25 years. He podcasts at and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Read other articles by Buff.