A moment of poise between the heaviness of late summer and the dry letting go of first color.
Pine needles come first, impaling wormy mushrooms and casting orange over green mosses.
Myriad life curls, tucks and drifts soft mountains of ligneous debris into long sleep.
A tickle of passing pleasure to pull scratchy wool again, an expression of new anonymity after the exposure borne of muggy afternoons, the appearance of warbler nests black against the sudden scarlet of virginia creeper, the scent of wild grape after the frost.
The scarlet of summer holly berries, Jack Pulpit turned woman for a season, partridge- and bunch-and baffled wild straw- berries, canadian mayflower as translucent glass, deliquescent, stone nubbins of false solomon seal, tiny dry helmets of british soldiers, so much blood.
And then the bones: driftwood dislodged from weakened sugar maples by drenching thunderstorms, indian pipe in lifeless grove-pockets in a many-fingered grope for posterity, tiny crepes of basidiomycetes poised over scatters of bleached maple leaves damply pasted to the duff of a roadside, sensitive fern likewise whitened by a mere breath of chill night, tiny white implosions on tips of red stem grass, russian olive curling its silver speckled undersides to the lowering sun and again the blood, now dried and scabbed in small hard knots beneath the crackled leaves.
Red stems, porcelain berries, black scars of long gone baneberry flowers; asters, petals thrown back in imitation of great speed, clustered in tight cautious knots, clinging husks of coyote-stolen corn, grimy webs of late tent-makers.
The lichen startle with cyan shrieking against bark and fallen twig and rock wall and fence post. Now, delivered of the self important twittering of transient avians, black crows creak and and rattle among newly minted siblings.
The day sky saturated with fresh pigment; Cygnus drifts downward as Orion's bow-tip scrapes the eastern night-edge. Wooly-bears must be put out of the house into the window wells, graceful whitefooted mice must be offended by suspended bags of naptha and camphor, leaf-footed bugs trailing the sharp scent of green chlorophyll taken from the screens and set with remorse on crackling cinquefoil pods, fat mantids nudged from doorsteps before their egg-cases disrupt the entryway, adolescent turkeys and geese and foxes shooed from the bird feeder.
Now this, before the blowsy excess of true autumn, the sweet woodsmoke, the rolling acorns, the fine disorder of leaves and grit, and all the other bits we laugh and cherish.
It is not so much the death, as it is the first dying, that brings penitence to my eyes.