PAST PEAK By Cheryl Corey

PAST PEAK

The leaf peepers came in great numbers
With reservations booked at B & B’s:
Prepared to photograph a landscape glossed
With vivid orange, red, and yellow trees;
Traversed the countryside for autumn’s best;
Preserved their findings in wax paper pressed.
But since they’ve gone, with foliage past the peak,

What beauty this, paled by first hard frost?
These leaves that linger still or fall to ground
In sepia tones or cinnamon warmly browned;
And some a sheathe of copper lightly-fired,
The last of greening chlorophyll expired;
Then darken deep to dusky reddish umbers
Or raw and burnt sienna, each unique;

And oh, the wood-grape musting on the vine,
The bittersweet, barberry, and bramble twine!
The branching stag at dusk in seasonal rut;
The cupule-whistle born of acorn nut;
The flower’s last assay at petal curl
And bark knuckled into a knotted knurl.

All this and more in season of decay,
Where conifers now bloom with seeded cone,
And skies begin to cast long shadows gray
Upon an aging face that’s flecked with roan. 

Cheryl Corey’s poetry has appeared in The Society of Classical PoetsMobiusDerondaThe Comstock Review, and Iambs & Trochees, among others, and most recently in the current issue of Iconoclast. She is also the author of short stories anthologized in Talls Tales & Short Stories (2014), Women’s Best Short Stories (2017), and a novella, The Mirror (2016), all published by Black Rose Writing.  

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