Autumn Leaves
2018 by Ellin Anderson

Ellin Anderson

A quickening, a briskness in the air,
A lust for florid words against the dark;
A single tree sends up a signal flare
Of scarlet warmth against the greenwood, stark
As flame at sunset on a funeral pyre
For some well-storied hero — summer lies
In such a wreath of blood, a shroud of fire,
Where all too soon, the breath of winter flies
Down to the lawn, to gleam as silver frost;
Old season gone, we cheer its crimson cost.

By field and yard, in breezy forest dell,
The maple blooms in passion’s tempting red,
Not just of apple, but the candy shell
That celebrates the hallowed and the dead;
On other trees, the emeralds turn to coals
Upon a trembling branch that sheds hot light,
For ice has blanched it, as the season rolls
Away deceptive days, however bright:
Transformed, transcended in one chilly night,
The oak is red and gold, resplendent sight!

His ear cocked to the wind, the crow will perch
On ground of purest blue, against the sky
With coin of golden aspen, leaf of birch;
When all have shown their colors, all must die,
For summer’s green was just a screen of youth;
The red, the gold, the orange of the fall
Show us the soul beneath it, and the truth,
As when we bowed our heads before the tall
And leafless trees, in woods whose height and length
Revealed the secret of undying strength.

2018 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved. No part of  this work may be copied or used in any way without written  permission from the author.



Ellin Anderson

I.  The Sky Was Filled With Crows

This morning when I rose,
The sky was filled with crows,
Careening through the iron air
Because they had some business there.
The mobbing of an owl?
The robbing of small fowl?
Some breach of rigid avian laws?
The trees exploded with their caws,
And, taking fright at what they said,
I shuddered, and went back to bed.

II.  Mourning

Brown-garlanded, and bent with grief,
The tree divested, leaf by leaf,
And then unfurled her handkerchief
Of deepest black. It was a crow.
Then came another. Loath to go,
They mourned with her amid the snow.

III.  At Dusk

At dusk, in trying to be brave,
I hummed and walked by many a grave,
And where bright Jordan’s water flows,
I saw a meeting of nine crows.
I asked the augurs, “Has Love died?”
They flew as one. If they had lied,
Instead of lighting where Love slept
In peace, his every promise kept,
I might have sung there as I wept.

IV.  Fledglings

Before he was the Bird of Fear,
That crow was someone’s Baby Dear
Who got his parents out of bed
At dawn, in begging to be fed.
The sable pair, in summer’s heat,
Worked feathers ragged finding meat,
And if you don’t believe it’s true,
Somebody even loved me, too.

© 2015 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved. No part of  this work may be copied or used in any way without written  permission from the author.



Ellin Anderson

Late in the season, at the close of day,
While heaven’s archer aimed his bow away
From apple trees a frosty harvest drapes
With withered lace, the ruffed grouse ate wild grapes.

Fine feathers sparkled in the golden light
Within, without, that told me of their flight
From ancient days, untroubled by a breeze
Of ice, in times when lizards claimed the trees.

My quiet waterway is not the Styx,
Nor am I old as Archaeopteryx,
But I recalled a touch of Eden’s glow
As grouse ate purple grapes, an age ago.

There in the mercy of the autumn sun,
On winter’s verge, in pause of gale and gun,
Ruffed grouse ate grapes, and knew an hour of peace
Within the music of the southbound geese.

© 2018 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved. No part of  this work may be copied or used in any way without written  permission from the author.



Ellin Anderson

First, there is news, wind-borne, or on the page:
A stern report, a breeze as hard as flint;
Those who make gardens their contentment’s gauge
Observe the early dusk, and take the hint,
And harvest the late season’s finest fruit:
Sweet yellow corn, tomatoes on the vine;
And cover tender plants where every root
Holds fast to summer, in the mild sunshine
Whose dimming star is just about to turn
The chill of morning to a blackened burn.

Nothing we see or hear reveals the state
Of danger for all life beyond our doors;
Winter and death are at the further gate,
But days are warm, the gentle torrent pours,
Flowers are bright, the birds still feast and sing,
We plan for colder weather when we must —
In forest glades, old shades of green still cling,
Yet over all there hangs a pall of dust
Whose pallor says, “I’m tired, I am spent
Down to the last, for life is only lent.”

A dawn will come when all the dewy grass
Is turned to fairy silver at our feet;
The meadow pond’s a dusty looking-glass
Whose magic of quick change, and of deceit
Is shining for us — capturing blue skies,
It mirrors the last robin’s rapid flight
To milder welcomes, where no warmth belies
The truth of deprivation overnight:
One breath of ashen frost will make us grey
Till glare of snow brings on the brighter day.

© 2019 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved. No part of  this work may be copied or used in any way without written  permission from the author.



More Poetry

Solid Rock
The Drive to Barre
Three Drinking Songs
The Liberty Tree

Lost at the Towers
Cold Spring
Snow White / The Apple-Eves
A Rabbit
Four Sonnets
The Bee Swarm / The Honeyman / Did She Curse the Bees?
Little Fred
Butterfly, Columbus Day

The Outlaw
The Revenants

The Wolf-Dog
We Who Refuse to Die
The Field of Flax
The Little Mermaid

Alfheim / The Christmas Tree
The Devil's Den

The Swan
Aix Sponsa
Three Warriors
The Captive Stag
The Patriots' House
The Lovers' Forest
The Stray Cat
Ellin Anderson's Biography


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