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Photo: Cindy Williams Untitled

by Corinna Richards

Her head is bright wrapped in a scarf, set to outbid the falling glory, downward cast to avoid the wind which slaps wet treasures of Autumn at her rubber shoes. With a useless broom she beats the path. Her hands knotted like the naked branches. She is making and remaking mulch piles just to see if she still can. I watch her every autumn and she nods briskly to me as I crunch the dryleaf underfoot, and she calls "back end again." And I nod back and crunch away. But this autumn, this autumn is different. Her scarf is faded and her rubber boots have lost their shine. Her fingers stump around the broom and the pile defeats her. When I crunch past her house she does not call but stays bent over the mulch. Then suddenly the broom falls from her fingers, and so still she stands amid the swirling leaves. And I crunch over and call, "it's back end again", and I pick up the broom and take her gnarled hand in mine, and I smile because it has the warmth of the living. And we go inside and I steam the teapot and we sit together and watch the leaves through the window.

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