I had begun to wonder whether autumn’s colors
would ever come to Cowley County.
The hardwoods of Doniphan offered their full bounty
two hundred miles north of here at least two weeks ago:
maples gone to orange, yellow, red
and in a few rare cases, purple,
along with some similar fine tones of ash and gum.
The grasses along the roadways and ditchbanks
massed their splotches of deeper colors
in an array that spread for miles.
Here along the southern border,
the only reds I had seen were a few small clusters of sumac,
some cut back to the height of grass
and others the height of a man’s shoulders
should he be careless enough for that measuring.
Dark clusters of berries hung amidst that shroud of crimson.
Yesterday, though, with a southern wind
blowing brown leaves across the campus,
I looked north in my passing across 3rd Street
where concrete changes into brick
and I saw thick mats of yellow and red
scattered in between the rows of greens
where oak and elm still cling
to the memories of warmer days and mild nights.
Sometimes it takes the right season
for something bright to make itself known,
some showing of what was hidden,
gifted by ridding itself of the covering cloak
that used to blend in among all the others
like the leaves of oak and elm.
It ought to be something other than a self-conscious shouting
that lets faith make its sprouting known,
something usually unaware of its own pain and beauty.