DYING BACK

I run the red and green push

mower over the back yard one

more time; less to cut what little

grass remains than to chop the weed

tree leaves browning up on the

Creeping Charlie and crabgrass. 

Tonight, we will cover the tomatoes

and peppers in a quixotic hope of

squeezing a few more gifts from

October. Small green tomatoes hang

from withering vines. The raspberry

canes bend down, laden with almost-fruit.

In the front yard, our silver maple

and gingko hold onto their green

like visas against death, while

the fiery maples across the street

jettison their crimson fingers into

this fierce wind.  It will be useless

to rake for days. Our leaves will

fly to the neighbor’s, the neighbor’s

to ours.  Already the hostas and

sunflowers are shedding their bones,

and the flowers the bees delighted

in all summer have shrunken to seed.

All this is ordered by an ancient

call: earth and her creatures

loosing what they love to die back

into winter. Every fall, they take

the cup and drink it. Every autumn

their goodbyes ravish our eyes

with color. Maybe a tree weeps

each leaf she has held as it drops

down to rot away. I cannot know. 

But there is welcome for each in

the deep dark where roots labor

among the blind beasts.  It may be

that each fallen leaf, each withered

stalk dancing and dying is a tender

of incense, a prayer flag, a knee

bent to offer blessing to the world.

(First published in Bacopa Literary Journal)

A video of me reading the poem:

3 Responses

  1. Wonderful stuff Arte !

    Many thanks. Will be reading more for sure. Just got tuned in to your work through Elegy on Writer’s Almanac today

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