Late in the season, after peak,
the leaves begin to change,
abandoning their color,
one by one dropping off, becoming carpet,
then less than carpet, dirt,
another layer, somehow history and future both.
You walk. It is a dark day, almost raining,
the moisture heavy in the air,
hanging like a veil, not quite mist, but palpable,
a creeping thing. No skin is safe.
No soul untouched.
You walk, wounded. Proud. A survivor again,
batting away the effects with each step,
the pain lessening in this forest of the dying.
Not leaving. Never that. Life has taught you pain never leaves.
It only lessens. You grow stronger. Better able.
You finger the yellow leaves. Some are stained brown
with the mold that will eventually claim them,
but the black spots only accentuate what remains,
the brightness. You feel the texture.
In a week, most will be gone, victims of rain and wind.
But a few always remain. And as the winter snow comes
they will remain. As the season turns bitter, they remain,
touchstones, imperfect mirrors of who you are,
waiting for the spring, when finally, not storms, but new growth,
push them aside.
About this poem
The picture was taken at a friend’s house, in nearby Danby.
When you are recovering from surgery, you spend way too much time thinking.
Doctors tell me walking is the best thing I can do for myself. I am doing it.
From all that, today’s poem.