A Walk Last October

The children took us for  
an October walk 
in the woods

I was supposed to talk about the food chain 
but became distracted  
to fixation 
on the decomposers 

Which do their work quietly, 
obedient and consuming. 

But why is it done in such colors 
that accessorize the forest in bright tones? 

It is not done shyly, but celebratory. 
This blatant stalking in the footsteps of death, 
with no gentle modesty. 

Calling, “Here I Am– 
come see me work; 
admire my frills and flash  

as I fell this once great column 
that held up the sky  
in its day.” 

Or here,  
one of the children  
is on her knees 

and nestled,  
where only a child 
or mouse might see, 

is a layered fungi whistling
away happily, spreading
his gills so precisely. 


Why is it done so delicately? 

Blooming with such oyster-like 
wonder that I am awestruck, 
cannot draw close enough 
to see the details– 

This marvelous minutiae  
of death work. 

Orange, pink, purple, neon green, red
or paint chip splashes
taped to the living room wall–
tangerine, salmon, mauve, chartreuse and garnet.

Little fans climbing up 
tree trunks, like children
conquering a giant. 

Or here, astonished clams. 
Their mouths open; 
the pearl mislaid
because it was, after all, dispensable. 

As Mary said, 
I should have been well prepared.

And yet, I neglected
to take it to heart. 
Instead we leapt through
the season of death.

Below is the poem by Mary Oliver that this post is based on.

We Should Be Well Prepared

The way the plovers cry goodbye.
The way the dead fox keeps on looking down the hill with open eye.
The way the leaves fall, and then there’s the long wait.
The way someone says we must never meet again.
The way mold spots the cake,
The way sourness overtakes the cream.
The way the river water rushes by, never to return.
The way the days go by, never to return.
The way somebody comes back, but only in a dream.

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