by Rebecca Noffsinger
The flowers break the news at dusk one day in early October
Divulging their mildew-spoiled leaves
and wrinkled petals flecked with brown
I’d overlooked until I looked up close.
That’s when I notice their stems, weakened by the short days,
shrinking from where they towered over me just last week
now leaning over the garden path in a slow motion fall.
Winter is coming.
I suppose I should pull the flowers up
and carry them to the compost graveyard
just as I did the tomatoes and cucumbers
who are long dead.
But I’m not ready.
I remember the summer,
in their prime
they pulled me out of bed before the heat hit
their best for my own
rewarding my need with more blooms to take
then letting me go,
at day’s end
listening to me unwind in silence
giving me space
to pull the weeds sweat running
fingers smelling of sweet earth
stringing up the ungrateful peas
working out my puzzles my failures
calming me down lifting me up.
Those sunny days brought the bees
so many bees
sipping from their centers
making the world go round.
And on days I couldn’t visit,
I stared out my back window
and soaked in the view
not needing for once.
And they never lied; showing me what my neglect could do if I let it go too far.
Now they are almost done
as everything goes.
We wait together, knowing
pretending it will last,
But before the frost comes
I will keep them as long as they’ll stay
they aren’t what they were.
They still are beautiful to me
And the bees don’t seem to mind either
though they are slow and few now.
What will I do when they’re gone?
But stare at blank spaces
Until we meet again.