the stealing days of light fleeing south bring out
the features in the faces of the children at play;
what we see is replaced by seeing what they see
and regretting the time between seeing and remembering.

Bring out the play — they are hardened by the summer —
soft and sweet with corn and wine — lean and strong
with running until 9 or 10 at night, up at 6 for swimming
and cycling. Fall is the time of prowess, the time of

It is still early, the leaves are not cut
with fire and fodder, sinking into mud and fragility,
rustling and flexing with the wind, soon to tear and travel
a short spirit spiral into the wet grass and sudden frosts.

The man before me has something to teach me— he is
afraid of death, the death of his wife, he is looking where
I am afraid to go. Nature necessitates this. That is why I
am talking to him. He reaches out. Fall is the time of bridges.

I speak to him. I try to comfort him without fear, to pray
for him without wondering if some god, any god, could exult
in these moments of weakness, wonder if we are just
the simple relation that makes cruder, eternal beings feel superior.

We need the reminders that come our way. I pray to god this man
be given strength and grace when it is called for, let him help her
surrender if she must, fight, to remember she lived well. The children
speed around us on tricycles. The wind whips leaves in pools only I

remember at this moment. I am looking at the future and the woods are
afire with the quick and the dying. Fall is the finish, the start. I am a
squirrel picking through the first ground cover before winter. I am the leaf
to protect the roots. I am the nut that waits patiently to feed, or sprout and flower.

I am the frozen bird that no longer looks through that eye.
The children are shouting about their game. The sky glows with the end
of day. He still cannot leave. He is waiting for them to dismiss him;
they are intent on filling these last moments with noise and laughter.

It’s nothing to them. I have to ask them to say something, “Tell her you love
her, you hope she gets better, it may be your last chance to let her know”,
they can’t understand, they’re too excited about their game. The light is fading;
the game is ending; someone laughs, though we grieve.