This time of year, when the sun wants
little to do with us and simply skirts
the horizon, I start out early to enjoy
its brief embrace—these steps an effort
 
to outpace the rustling I mistake for a 
stranger at first, or a tangle of fallen
leaves, only to realize it’s simply time
leaving me in the wind. A younger me
 
would have spun on a heel and cocked
his arm, but I am starting to realize the 
folly in fighting for ground I cannot
hold and the peculiar irony in finding
 
clarity under confused skies—the sort 
where you can never discern the white
clouds from the grey. They all seem
to me like gauze, a sort of funeral cloth
 
cut from another time and sent across
continuum and cosmos to cast a pall 
here as I struggle to deal with another
fork in the road. I choose to conquer
 
this precipice where I pause to glance
south across the bejeweled water, baptized
on these rocks, and offer last respects to a
clematis sentinel left to rot on a weathered
 
trellis that strikes me like a cross. Nearby
a tree stubbornly holds to its brittle leaves,
their mold recast in the shape of last night’s 
storm. But next in the stand is a sapling,
 
the appendages mostly ashen and stiff—
as if age cheated at this infernal game—
save a shoot at the end with bend and bud
intact. I head back the way I came and smile
 
quite certain this is one of those subtle gifts,
the sort of thing I’ll tell you over dinner
and long after the first of us snores, tangled
like the first unruly sprouts of a spring
day that breaks bright and tolerably warm.