“What’s she doing, mommy?”
The little boy nudges his mother, who is navigating a grassy park. The rubber wheels of the stroller she pushes whoosh through leaves leached into shades of mustard and tan.
The boy peeks around his mother at me and at the ground beneath my feet.
I’m an oddity here.
At a preschooler’s eye level, brilliant vermillion fall flowers still hold ballet poses against a seamless blue sky. But my camera points away from the colorful display and down towards desiccated, muddied, damp, collapsed flora. Brilliant decay.
I am fixated on “gorgeous ruin,” like that on the pathway where poet Carol Ann Duffy’s child-self trailed her dead father:
. . . he had treaded spring and summer
grasses before I thought to stir, follow him.
Autumn’s cathedral, open to the weather, rose
high above, flawed amber, gorgeous ruin; his shadow
stretched before me, cappa magna,
my own, obedient, trailed like a nun.
He did not turn. I heard the rosaries of birds.
The trees, huge doors, swung open and I knelt.
Color and life worn away, layers shredded, innards laid bare. Sap stilled within the trunks of freshly-skeletonized trees, mammoth bees angrily buzzing in search of pollen-bearing stalwarts. Leaves bruised, cotton candy pink now darkened to the burgundy of coagulated blood. Seed-strewn stews: pumpkin corpses mixed with layers of dissolved leaves, dotted with spiky miniature helmets, fallen chestnuts cracked on brick sidewalks. Saw-toothed leaves mottled with dark mossy tumors, flower petals no longer gloriously plumped by silver raindrops.
Again, nuance doesn’t seem to be my thing.