At Summer's End
by John Engels
Early August, and the young butternut
is already dropping its leaves, the nuts
thud and ring on the tin roof,
the squirrels are everywhere.
Such richness! It means something to them
that this tree should seem so eager
to finish its business.
The voice softens, and word becomes air
the moment it is spoken. You finger the limp leaves.
Precisely to the degree that you have loved something:
a house, a woman, a bird, this tree, anything at all,
you are punished by time.
Like the tree,
I take myself by surprise.
"At Summer's End" by John Engels, from Sinking Creek. © The Lyons Press, 1998.