the fading of love is like leaves crunching under you in the autumn.
for a moment, they crinkle, but the crush is easy to forget
while dead leaves are still dropping in the wind.
as sure as rain falls after a bleak winter,
trees shed and go naked. they grow another ring.
death goes unnoticed. wind sang out the last buds.

children shiver, and scamper for their warm things
while their hungry cat tracks down a quaking mouse.
the kids jump headlong into a careful leaf pile
and giggle. the piling work is worth it
for the pleasure in the crackling, rough leaves.
the leaves are dry; their marrow's been sucked
inside gnarled trunks. a branch falls in the breeze
and a chimney's smoke stream fizzles.

a thin oak tree planted in the spring is now tethered
with plastic. its mulch looks wet but shallow.
it's slim like a baby who can't eat because it cries.
a grey bird looking for a perch alights, but wobbles
on the weak frame and departs. one stem bends
back from a northern gust. winter is a cruel teacher.

the fading of love is like the waning light of winter
in the stiff, praying trees. in that cold, children
are driven inside. songbirds flee. old men cry.

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