Rain, a discouraging gray sky, the roads slick and black
and fog shrouds whatever views are out there.
Car trouble now, a haggle with a mechanic,
and hours spent dawdling in a damp town.
Soggy leaf meal sticks to our sneakers
even in the Ubi Sunt antique shop.
They are bringing in the sheaves in that old print over there,
and on that rack, covered with dusty bric-a-brac,
someone’s scattered plastic autumn leaves.
"Nature’s kitsch" is how you once described the real ones.
We’ve come to see them anyway.
When the weather clears, we’ll drink in all the vistas,
the tree-ringed lakes, the calendar-worthy hills—
all the reds in the crayon box, and some bronzes, and bold golds.
We’ll hit the trails and crunch the leaves
and maybe then our brows,
set as they are in the grim implacability of middle-age,
will finally unclench themselves.
We have lots of company.
The coffee shop, where we order cider and pumpkin pie,
is loud with fellow leaf peepers escaping the hard rain.
The waitresses all dart around and clatter plates—
how odd that one stops at our table to seize a pensive moment.
"I’m so sorry that you missed the fall," she says at last,
waving toward the streaming picture window.
"I’m so sorry for you, that the peak is over."
"Hot coffee, please." These tidings make me shiver—
though hadn’t we really known it all along?
Outside, the scoured maple knows it.
Apprised by gusts, her branches nod and nod.
From Here from Away (Wordtech Communications, 29003)
© by Kate Bernadette Benedict.
Used with the author’s permission.