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Autumn Sequence

by: William Reichard

I.
In the unexpected heat of a late autumn day,
speak aloud all of those things you don’t want.
Call them out by their names. They can’t hide
in the sharp October light. They can’t be buried
under brittle brown leaves. Say their names
and they’ll appear, one by one. They’ll look
at you. And then, they’ll disappear.

II.
Everything smells so ripe and done.
Dry leaves skitter along the street.
Listless bees move from flower to flower
but nothing’s left to eat.
My body wants to pull itself apart,
my limbs want to scatter themselves
among the weeds and wild asters.
Twenty years ago I didn’t know
what a wild aster was, or why autumn
always brought me to my knees
in breathless fear and prayer.
Now I know why these thing occur,
and I say, everything that has the will
to bloom is a flower.

III.
Wrens at the feeder in early November.
A single white cosmos blooms atop
a spindly stem. Blood red lilies’ stalks
are dry and brown, their leaves resemble
long blades. Some boys are going
door to door, offering to rake or
bag leaves for cash. Everywhere,
houses in foreclosure. The inhabitants
abandon their lives. The neighborhood
fills with strays. A black cat approaches,
sweet and small. I give him some food
and water, and he quietly moves on.