of auburn suns and frozen skies

A poem by Chloe Fang, ’23, winner of our transition contest

The leaves were vivid, 

burning with a carnelian-amber intensity. 

You gazed down the street,

at the trees whose leaves were once peridot green

but were now a range of goldenrods, orange topaz, and garnet.

They wouldn’t be for much longer.

Amidst the wonderful fall tones around you,

with every possible shade of a sunset lying at your feet,

you’d think it was like someone knocked over a paintbox of leftover embers from a fire. 

Taking in the last of the sunshine through the trees,

you stood alone on your driveway,

with the road devoid of people and barely furnished with cars. 

You knew what was coming next.

The brisk autumn wind whisking through the branches gave a hint, 

sending auburn leaves whirling through the air without a care.

Some were torn forcefully from their branches,

others going freely with the clearly superior force. 

You opened your eyes just in time to catch the swirl of orange and red,

managing to see the wonder in front of you just before the leaves floated to the ground.

Even though they’d fallen from glory above, 

it was, in no way,

a dishonorable descent into the ordinary world below.

They still maintained their blazing intensity, bright and vibrant,

landing in clusters of flames atop the faceted gravel.

As such, it only made sense that they’d also take whatever warmth was left in the sky above.

The radiant blue that the sky once was was no more,

replaced with ashen clouds and a canvas that hurt to look at after a while.

The breeze that’d blown by earlier had returned— 

harsher, colder, 

a bitter shell of what it used to be.

Instead of leaves, the sky would soon cry something else— 

something, like the wind,

had started from something soft to something frigid. 

What was it, 

something that warned of something so terrible

like the icy, biting wind

and the absence of color in the world

that could make the glossy warmth of the autumn leaves so comforting?

Even as they fell to the ground,

even as they’d soon crumple, shrivel, and darken— 

why was this scene beautiful? 

Why was seeing the physical loss of color on trees tranquil?

Was it the docileness of the simple spirals of the leaves that lured you in?

The sense of peace, of comfort?

Or was it all a trick of the light,

reflecting off of the sad but beautiful warnings scattered across the dark road

signaling the end of suns

and the inevitable coming of the merciless hoarfrost?

Just waiting, waiting,  

waiting to shatter what was left of your foolish hopes

and your isolated world?


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