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The leaves are burnished still, yet many bear shades of fall— hints of ocher, carmine, umber-wheat. Some are cupped, upside down, turned backwards, or rest dead, askew as they face the sky, lie flat like sails, their boats aground. Listless, they glance towards a floating curl of clouds. These, our leafy fall debris, lie in wait of broom, a rake, or deluge from incessant rain. Robins have flown, but sparrows, wrens, the cardinals seem quite unchanged from a year before, even from last summer’s heat— now lost, these recent days. Meanwhile our back-veranda bears witness to a lengthy new debate. Do the twitters to our ears emerge from house or purple finch? Or maybe from their second cousin, the redpoll, which seems to appear (by the bird-book, anyway) to be a little too red for us to call this chirper by that name. Perhaps it should be named the house finch, despite being purple, extra plump as indeed befits the appearance of the purple finch. These obsessions transport Charlie and me, replace other thoughts, the news of 200,000 dead from COVID, that virus which floats like an aerosol— from here to everywhere, from axon to dendrite, to the next neuron, to our bodies—then back again. Albeit burnished, our leaves seem different now. We muse on our approach to this, our autumn of retreat. I fill the dog dish on our porch with fresh water and watch for squirrels, blue jays, the tiny wrens, those twittering finches and bobbing mourning doves, all new callers to this muddy bowl: disparate visitors during these unknown and fledgling times, as we, restless, move inside to our new and vacant winter space— No family, no friends— nor surprise callers will arrive at our door to greet us with a friendly smile, a folding embrace.
Judith Alexander Brice’s books include Overhead from Longing (David Robert Books, 2018).
Copyright 2020 Judith Alexander Brice.