Where I live – there’s heresy in trees,
An orange apostasy amid the green denominations.
At first it’s just a single branch
In some dank corner of the lowlands –
A nickering doubt in the clicking of crickets
That gets a nod from the goldenrod,
A pang of white-haired dread in a dark night’s frost –
And suddenly a failure of the faith in the eternal power of Summer
Bursts forth among the congregation of the Leaves.
Is this cold October wind the Grand Inquisitor,
Keening his charges? – ” Renegade, recant ” he gusts, and
With ” Blasphemy “, shushes voices of dissent
And bears down upon the forests from thin ascetic clouds.
And the trees – they are divided.
The pious pines keep their green habits
Telling nervous rosaries on the round brown cones,
Looking down demurely, shaking their cowled heads
In shame and fear and secret horrified delight,
While the others lift their hands to heaven –
Half the woods afire with licks of flame,
Orange, yellow, red – copper purple, even –
Beseeching beeches, moaning oaks,
Begging birches bilious with fear,
Bark like flagellated skin,
The quiet sumac in a sudden glory of Transfiguration
Martyred maples – all rooted to the stake
All given to the Holy Fire.
At last and all too soon the flames die out,
And with a healing cry of rain
The black-clad char, November storm
Tears the tatters from the ashen trees
To leave a world of winter silence.
Only the pines risk a whispered rush of prayer
As they await – with perfect faith
But no proof – the rekindling miracle of spring.
And do you stand with those
Who keep their color green, who stay the course,
Who stand and wait the winter out?
Or will you join the ones who flame,
So brief, so bright, so unexpected
And confounding – but who must die,
Numb and having left the world unchanged
But for a carpet of brown husks
Pressed into the soil of another year?
— Tom Myers