THERE HAD ONCE BEEN SOMETHING
so beautiful—as bitter and sweet as the darkest chocolate and as dark as the darkest blue. It was the word November. That word caused a rumble deep inside. Something peaceful, icy and still. November slid the summer behind it fully. It also hid the fall. It towered over the summer and the fall. It was the curtain to winter, a curtain that opened in November to something new and dying in the year. It was a solemn word for a solemn time, and no one could say November often enough to kill the quiet magic of the sound. That word is a shy girl with dark hair and dark eyes, a shy young man with dark hair and dark eyes who has gone away in all his shyness to blush and mourn in private.
Then some yahoos, who weren’t convinced by the beauty of the word November, branded it Movember, and men wore moustaches to signify… something. And the word November, which started with a strong and solemn “No,” now began with a ridiculous cowlike “Moo.”
It was just that kind of world, now. Someone is always allowed, and encouraged, to kill what has lasted, to change and rename what is quiet, alone, apart and beautiful—something icy that has nothing to do with raising money or young men and their beards, that has nothing to do with people. When November became Movember, it was like the sky had fallen in and revealed a fake tacky sky painted like the real sky but fooling no one. Will we ever see November again? Who could we string up, in the public square, for the sin of destroying it and making Movember? Who could be dismembered, publicly, on a public table? Who could be strung up and shot? All the men with their “pubic hair moustaches,” as we called them in the seventh and eighth grades because the boys who wore them then had almost no hair on their upper lips. Pubic hair-vember. Why not? I went out with my machete, and any man I saw in the month of November with a barely sprouting moustache that put in my head that horrible word I cut in two and let him bleed in the gutter and covered him with a dying leaf—a dead red leaf or a yellow one—to eulogize the beauty of November.
Then there were reports in the paper and on TV of what I was going around doing. The men who saw me coming with my machete turned and ran the other way, but I was too fast; I cut them down and lay upon their bodies a dying or dead leaf, of amber or gold.
I was the hero of November: The word was saved, and poetry was returned to the calendar. The secondto-last month of the dying year no longer meant hairs sprouting on the upper lip of some unbearable man. It meant cold new days following soberly on leaves of red, maroon, orange, gold, amber, brown and yellow.