Autumn’s chill wind is late
and the gingko, oak and chestnut trees have missed their cue.
The vermillion, burgundy, ochre, russet, rusts and tangerine
the scarlet, carmine, lemon and siennas,
the terra cottas and the maroons have not peeped.
Even the banal red, yellow and orange are not as fiery as they should be.
The tints and hues are caught, says the weatherman, by global warming
(or “climate change” to be more politically correct
as the once esoteric reserve of nerdy academics
turns acrimonious with politicians joining the fray).
Leaves turn quickly to mochas and brown
and bare branches are all that’s left to signal an autumn that did not come to pass.
Are we wreaking our world so delicately balanced over decades, nay, over centuries—eons even?
Or are the trees and vines conspiring with the sun and chill to remind us
that we cannot control them?
We may plant them, cut them, prune them, even fell them mercilessly with chainsaws
but we can never make them turn.
It is not ours to dictate what raiment they should wear
before the onslaught of frost and chill.
It is a secret that trees and plants alone know,
a secret which they share with rain and sun and air,
but which they keep away from us
who pretend to be masters of all we survey.