October, having hid a few
of her favorite costumes
in the hollow’s woods,
brought them out
as her final trick, a treat
for all who happened
down a certain country road.
Then, laughing in pleasure
at their delight, she slid into
the shadows of the surrounding
hills, and disappeared.
Just in time for Halloween,
pumpkin-orange tulips popped up
on the shelves of my grocer’s store.
They seemed rather spooky to me,
I admit, quite out of place and time.
A trick of commerce, I scoffed.
But then their beauty won me
and coaxed me to change my view.
It’s not a trick, but a treat, I decided.
Tulips should get to play, too.
A few days back, fewer than I can count
on my fingers, some of the maples
still wore their circus colors, other trees
still held their green. “Trick or treat”
is the call of the season. Now the boughs
are bare and the wind howls, ghostlike,
whipping its sheets of rain.
After the rain, boughs that just yesterday
still waved golden leaves, stand revealed,
poking their bare branches into low clouds.
Beneath them, as far as the eye can see,
a poem of fallen leaves is newly written
on the grass. Its countless verses singing
the life and death adventure, the mystery
and wonder of dancing in the sun,
never knowing what a day will hold,
but each having its measure of beauty.
And then the final letting go, the sailing
in the wind to the earth below,
and the breathing of the final song:
Home. Home. Home.
Like angels at the gates of heaven,
the trees are robed in gold, their limbs
raised in praise, as they sing the song
of the sun. Swaying in the autumn breeze,
they rain down golden coins that flutter
as they fall and deeply carpet the earth below
with their fragrant sighs that pave the pathways
Hour by hour, the lake’s music softens
and slows. The songbirds have gone,
taking their whistles and chirps
to warmer climes, and with them,
the buzzing insects. Now, little more
than the rustling of leaves remains,
an autumn lullaby floating across
the still waters, whispering
the season’s Gloria in hushed
and reverent tones. I stand
on the banks, barely breathing,
and my heart sings its own Amen.
Before the colors are swallowed up
by winter’s quiet dreams, let us
give you one more sweep of hues
to carry you through the colorless cold.
Tuck these bold flags into the corners
of your mind. Wave them on nights
when the wind howls, when snow
pulls its white blankets over your fields.
Let them warm you with their bright songs
and encourage you when the days
seem bleak and endless. Let them whisper
to you that winter is but a pulling back
of the Archer’s bow so that, come spring,
new songs may fly, and joy, renewed,
may fill your soul.
Let us stand tall, the pines say,
and salute the light. Let us
honor it with our pride in being
its children. As the liquid autumn gold
of it dances down our bark and sets
the foliage of the forest floor aflame
with joy, let us raise our branches high
in tribute and salute the perfect goodness
of this endless, brilliant light.
Mere weeks ago, butterflies
feasted on pink and purple flowers
in this field. I walked here bedazzled
by their flight and fragile wings
as they flitted from blossom to blossom,
resting to take their fill. They’re gone
now, but they left their colors behind
to paint the field. I got to walk here,
I thought to myself, when there were
butterflies. I get to walk in beauty now,
remembering, my heart
To walk in this gold is a gift.
To hear the crunch of the brush
beneath my boots and the whisper
of the river, to feel the moisture in the air
as rain nears, to watch the hawk soar
and the crimson leaves float down
in the breeze, twirling as if their fall
was some orchestrated ballet. All
of these, every miraculous detail,
are gifts, and priceless.