Autumn Leaves by Jenevieve Carlyn Hughes

Autumn Leaves

Remember the year a fox
came through the neighborhood
every afternoon—leaving hungry

tracks through the snow, as sunlight
glinted low against the old oak tree?

We imagined its den near the place
where we all went sledding as children
when it snowed, in the chestnut caves

Of Pine Orchard’s glacial hills.
Even now, I can hear your echo
in the restless wolf tones of the cello
as the bow draws near the bridge

I asked you once your favorite sound
—mine was the melodious lapping of
our dog at her water in the kitchen

Yours was the fizz of a wave
each time as it left the shore
kissing the sand before parting

Coming & going was simply your way
Somewhere, a honey jar holds your laughter
like a bee in resin.

This year, cedar waxwings are nesting
in the thicket where we walked in autumn
At this tangle of sun-gold & winterberry

we’ve arrived again. How did we reach
this place? I recall collecting acorns in
a hearth-box & wild apples for baking

Sun-dried leaves. A flurry of feathers
crashed into the window one day—
Stunned & silent,

Warm hands
placed gently on the hearth
so that beating wings could rest

by Jenevieve Carlyn Hughes

Instagram: @sea_thistle

Editor’s Note: The opening question of this poem invites the reader into a world made of nostalgia, where each image traces the emotional checkpoints of a life.

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