Lady Autumn, leaves falling, thin branches bare and barren, beauty fading, looks in the watery mirror of plashing stream – and sees the colour being sucked out of her former crackling locks; feels winter’s scythe stripping her flesh back to the bone; senses her sprightly dance of maple and beach, oak and dogwood, chokeberry and witch hazel slowing to a bald and stately passacaglia, the lament of bagpipes replacing lively full orchestra.
She feels ice hovering unseen in the air, a horde of spicules bent upon deadly invasion, a fight to the death she knows she cannot win.
Yet she pauses, stares, proud of surviving for so long. She touches the bony projections, sees fine sculpture in her prominent cheekbones, the sharpness of thin wrists, the turn of a skeletal ankle.
Winter’s Grim Reaper waits patiently, stripping the flesh from roseate youth, pressing death’s fingers into living bark, sucking juice and joy from pulsating earth and her transient creations.
Autumn knows. She feels the cycle deep in her race memory. She smiles. Last leaves flutter forlornly to the forest floor.