The afternoon leans in closer,
pushes up softly against my senses,
pauses, and then whispers “Autumn”.
Standing still, rake in my hands,
I sniff the season’s wafting aromas
like an eager curious canine.
Last month they were dropping tentatively,
as if they weren’t sure whether to stay or go,
but it’s October now, and the leaves here
are finally beginning to fall in earnest.
They know that there’s no going back —
this is their time to mount the forest pulpit
and sermonize about impermanence.
Any little breeze, and another tears off
and goes sailing through the air, bearing
crinkled-up news about old age and death.
We assume this leafy mail isn’t addressed
to us, even though the evidence is convincing —
everything changes, takes birth, thrives for a while,
and eventually fades away, as if it never happened.
How much of the humble dust beneath our feet
is composed of our ancestors’ remains?
Arising and vanishing is the way of things,
yet there is that, motionless even in the midst
of the drama, which is never implicated by change.
I was here before the long parade of ancestors.
Births came upon me, lives came upon me,
deaths came upon me, so many times
that I eventually lost track.
Truly, every life is its own story —
charming, poignant, mysterious, or sad —
yet whether we finally appreciate it or not,
it still utterly fascinates us, which is why
we typically keep coming back for more.
Let the leaves fall, let the rain fall, and the snow,
and the cleansing Spring winds, let them blow,
and the bounty of Summer — all is good.
Take your Darling by the hand or go alone,
wade out into it, this majestic emptiness,
and be astonished, again and again,
just holding a leaf in your hand.