The Dipping Bough (An Autumn Poem)

by Renwick Berchild

She has hung onto her children, cradled and loved them.

The wind sometimes whipped them, and the rain beat them down,
but by the strength of her arm, and the tenderness of her fingers,
so she has kept them secure and well fed.

Though the dark is coming, and she knows, time is short,
she whispers sweet-nothings into her children’s ears, protecting them
from the earthy grave that awaits them at her feet.

The cold rustles her, quietly
she is growing weak, but her children
they clutch and hold and kiss, reassured by her frame,
reassured by her mighty limbs and closeness to the heavens.

Night, grows longer, and on a New Moon
while her children sleep, she weeps.

She knows, come the morning, her bough will dip.

And her children, green and young and naïve, will learn of Death:

feel the slimness of their stems,
feel the brittleness of their veins,
feel the thinness of their skins,

but for the night, she loves them, loves them kindly and true.

When I awake, the dying has already ended.
The bodies piled high around their mother’s thick waist, the dew
clutching her bark and bone,

dripping her tears.

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