Christine Delea: Around Back

After summer, brown gulls and red cardinals
bring autumn inland, slowly,
on their salt-sprinkled backs, wings pumping
with chill. I pull my scarf around my neck
like a noose, billowing air blows leaves
in the wind. It will soon be
the season of death, and now, surrounded
by the bright colors of flame,
we move like a flock, although we go
in the direction of snow.

We are furious at having to acknowledge
constant aches and the suffering
that comes with age, the precursors
to our mortality’s end. But for now, early in
an autumn in which the news is always bad,
we sit around back on the patio
in pillowed Adirondack chairs, the air
smelling of ocean, the sunset emptying of birds.

My sense of your face as the darkness creeps
through the backyard lessens
until your soft chuckling is the only thing
assuring me you still exist.
I reach for you as a breeze picks up.
My hand finds nothing, as if
the upcoming winter has already taken you.

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