Among the oaks, incantations of leaves
are a chant, a crooning across the breeze
of something losing a hold. In the garden
a string of aluminum pie pans brush
against each other making a metallic echo.
Like black needles, crows sew clouds onto cobalt
sky, careen and capture tops of elms.
Bees comb begonias, wings cloaked
in pollen. I amble toward the birdbath,
and when I reach it, September light shines
soft creases across my face on the water’s
surface. I erase the lines with the full force
of the hose and watch water rain over
ceramic edges then level off like
a symmetrical puddle on a pedestal.
Above my head, dogwood foliage has become
brittle with crimson edges. Its leaves,
like simple truths, spiral to the ground forgotten.

A complex emotion brings me to a standstill,
leads to a moment of valuing everything:
the squirrel whose gaze follows me, the black
lab next door with its paws on the fence,
the sass of bluebirds on a telephone line.
All these entities remind me that I am
still able to walk away from death,
to live the fact of this day, bright and lush
as the shine of juice from a sliced apple.