A Walk in the Fall

Silently I sing, 
    my hymn the autumn splendor of the trees above,
    my music fallen leaves that crackle at my feet.

In brilliant counterpoint
    the breeze plays rippling riffs
    among the fluttering leaves
    that gleam like golden organ pipes
    against blue satin curtains in the sky.

Standing out among the golden ashes,
    sugar maples rival stained glass windows,
    blending shades of wondrous hues
    in seamless tapestries of living flames.

This towering nave of trees
    inspires at first a soaring anthem filled with joy,
    then slowly, sadly
    leads to somber thoughts of death.

A requiem filled with glory, yes,
    but all those sparkling colors fade to browns,
    and soon
    bare trees will mourn their fallen crowns.

Intertwining fugues of scents
    from newly-fallen leaves and distant fires 
    will mingle soon
    with musty smells of fresh decay.

Beetles, worms, and germs
    will work unseen to transform death
    and generate anew the stuff of life
    awaiting spring’s return.

This pageant, death and life,
    rebirth through countless years, 
    is wrought by spinning, tilting earth,
    in repetitious circles
    rushing ‘round the sun. 

Suddenly aware, I feel
    that awful motion – 
    spinning flight through endless space;
    the earth beneath my feet
    now seems no longer firm.

I feel the earth revolve around the sun,
    the solar system ‘round its galaxy, 
    the galaxies in turn rotate, expand,
    in headlong flight from cosmic blast.

And now I see the distant future -
    falling leaves and verdant buds in spring
    the singing of the migrant birds,
    will not repeat forever.

Those glorious seasons? – just an interlude
    between the molten land
    and boiling seas of newborn earth
    and all-consuming flames
    from solar throes of death.

Yet still the universe expands,
     creating stars and life 
     from fragments of exploding suns,
     beginning cycles, life and death,
     replacing lost-forever worlds with new.

Whole galaxies collide,
     are ripped apart and reassembled;
     mighty blasts explode in space
     and rip that space itself apart;
     conflagrations light the heavens.

And then the stars will die; 
     in creeping darkness,
     entropy's relentless force
     will level all to cold and lifeless wastelands, 
     remnants of vast glories past 
     and futures never realized.

The final act begins;
     now gravity's unyielding grip
     grasps frozen bits of stars,
     galactic corpses, flotsam on celestial seas, 
     and slowly starts to gather home
     its wayward flock of quarks.

Expansion now contracts, 
     reversing time and entropy; 
     at last the long rewinding has begun.

E pluribus unum -
    disparate laws of physics reunite
    in growing mass, four into one,  
    Apocalyptic horsemen,
    melded into mighty unity.

And again, and again, and again...
    the resurrected universe explodes, 
    just as it has and will for evermore,
    creating and destroying stars
    in fiery forges without end.

Reincarnation? Resurrection?
    Or just a cold, dead, universe of mass and force,
    exploding and collapsing through eternal time?

Written January 1998 by David L Brungart - © Copyright