Here are the woods.
Autumn’s scent is in the air.
A taint of smoke–
That’s from the bonfire farther down.
Here the pleasantly bitter pungency of bark
and dying leaf–
cheerful in its dying.

Autumn woods.
A trifle damp, you say?
Enough to cut the rustle
of the leafy carpet to a whisper.
Enough to mute the riot of tones too–
bronze and scalet,
brown and amesthyst and gold,
all blended in nature’s neutral broadloom.
Our path winds here,
close guarded by gnarled trunks,
yet sun-flecked.
For oak and birch and balsam,
companions through awesome nights
of high wind and
through sundrenched lazy noons,
stand partially stripped today
though their remaining pennants
flutter bravely still.
And see how warmly the light of the sun
slants through the trees?

Ah, but they were splendid in their glory–
in the first flush of spring
and the full leaf of summer.
Dense canopies of green,
offering shelter and privacy
to woods dwellers,
extending generous shade to passersby.
How they echoed to the chuckle
and triumph and praise
of the summer crowd.
In sunny glades dragonflies
brilliant shuttles,
wove gossamer spells through
lazy hours to cast over
feathery fern and shy woods blossoms.
A pity you could not have seen them then.
The undergrowth is sere and brittle now.
Yet something of it’s beauty remains–
is caught forever there,
if you have eyes for symmetry and balance
in stem and branch and twig.
Kind Autumn’s hand,
in stripping the plants,
revealed this austere loveliness,
shrouded before.

And take note of the scars.
Trace their meaning.
And perhaps you’ll come to
love these woods as I do.

Is there anything very special about them,
you ask,
The son of God has walked here!

I can show you his footprints,
plain, forever held here!

If you will you can see other traces
of His precence of the grove.
Dead limbs trimmed away,
unsightly weeds cut back.

Come, then.
Walk in my woods.

Margaret Epp

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