Along the Path
by Karla Linn Merrifield

Last night we had to look into that hexing eye
of the storm—but today—before waxing moon rise
with wind gustily swirling abnormally warm
temperatures & we do not blink
nor splinter much, nor turn our limbs away,
nor sweat sapblood any more than we already have
as we move forward to witness our girth
increase for the next ring of life.

This November,

any November, leaves scatter in fractal patterns
into Lake Ontario to decompose, or go up, up
in smoke as ashes dispersing toward any horizon
that climate may dictate at that moment
of final decomposition, incineration.

Yet we have

elected to be leaf-bearing trees, rooted,
bending, varied in species, through some ice hours,
but with grace through strange, challenging seasons,
autumns of choice. Our eyes are all those buds on branches
seeing toward springs into another millennium

& we are clothed

in our varied barks—smooth as young birch or aspen,
textured as old sequoias. Now one future portends
with an angel in each possibly inflammable, but durable detail.

Now, leave us be as stalwart deciduous trees, changeable.

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