Sermon from a tree in Autumn

We take the path into the wood.
Ahead, a giant beech.
As we draw near, it fires
a sudden shot, a burst of leaves,
crackles through its branches.

The dog looks up, suspecting squirrels.
None can be seen.
There is no natural cause –
no wind, no frost.

We stand awhile, look up
through black tracery
to bronze-flecked green and blue,

A leaf falls with a whisper.

Old man as thou art and sore beset;
think then of such as I.
Ten-score years have I endured;
ten-score times stripped bare;
ten-score winters naked in the snow.
And I must live for ten-score more –
core rotting, limbs failing –
when thou art gone.

Go then, on thy way, with gratitude.