The trees flame.
I step into the car and find it coated with wet leaves, the brown foliage glued to grill & windshield and hood.
I start the engine, and a flock of small black birds shudders upward. Lifts through gray light.
On the road I am driving fast now. Water hisses in the wheelwells, and already I feel the passing of what was — the coming of the cold.
The words rise to my lips and I speak them like a dare — come on — green eyes narrowed.
Come, Autumn, and all it represents: come fine lines and frost and ice.
Come, gray hairs curled in my brush. Black boughs crosshatched on white snow.
Come: blue veins and blizzard — I’ll climb my fading body like a ladder into Next. Laugh at the days to come.
(I am not always so brave, but I am today — and that’s enough).
Well, come on then.
The car slides forward through rainwet gold. The trees shed their summer leaves and I shed the past year like a suit of skin splitting open down the spine.
This place is too small for me now.
I flick on the windshield wipers and watch the cold rain disappear. The wet leaves loosen from the hood, fluttering back.
A glance in the rearview and already they’re behind me: dry dead things, skittering and tumbling in the road.
Pedal to the floor.