It’s oak-encircled – its peripheral sylvan ring an ellipse of slate-gray, great, aged faces –
all those old oaks appear to arrive at quorum. One’s knot opens as though its own low voice might slowly roll call, softly, rolling over the rarefied order of consonants of names in a Native tongue.
Faces in aging, winding wood – a countenance inhabits each tree in uneven surfaces, riddled in rough bark: aspects out of oak, and thicket-hidden visages. The grove around us rounds into a spectating crowd.
All the inscrutable oaks are yet tense with messages: to our touch bark ascends to braille, brittleness to myth, timber to apocrypha, narrowing grain to gaining narrative, and when the the wind will twist the trees, epics arise in their sighs.
And, within, it sits. It is a muted iris – a coil of old stone darker, almost the color of coal, its gray shade makes a stark and driving, dark, ash eye.
Flames flare in the fallen leaves at our feet – Northern arborvitae, common apple – hot hues in incandescent tempest – the racing reds of conflagration, yet innocuously soft. Autumn is always infernal here.
At first, it’s nondescript – the old stone ring on which your eyes and mine now sit. And it yet hints of ancient import. Ever the ash-eye keeps a vigil as sure as the trees. What Pre-European purpose did it serve – an eye at an apex of earth a muted iris on a hill where the World looked back at God?
Did indigenous fingers thrill to arrange its core where, then, raconteurs laughed after hunting, or did an Algonquian, alone and grateful for the running stain of a reddening hare in his hands make meticulous his gratefulness for the hare –
a perfect circle, a neverending line as the hare’s last breath, its soul, rose in an ether of steam from its small maw? I am reminded that the lover in Auden’s “Evening“ described Time as a racing rabbit. Autumn is always infernal here.
Or was this a consecrated space where natives once arrived and ringed under their sentinel oaks, their bows and arrows aside, to sacrifice the whole of a great stag?
I picture one all churned up in an earnest inner rapture — arms upraised – the scent of the burning stag smoky-rich and blinding, high on that Autumn eve – as red blood runs to searing black in the deer. Autumn is always infernal here.
Lithe beside that circle of old stone an unruly lavender marks your modern coat. Shedding it, your slim arm is in contrast — warm, lithe peach and ancient gray.
Under my dark eye your pearl legs are whiter for all Fall’s angled russets, reds and bladed burgundies, sharp coppers, burning roses, searing cerise and blinding vermilion. Autumn is always infernal here.
My hand races to you reddening hair as its auburn turns at sunset’s kiss, to darkened scarlet. “Dear,” you call me. I’m muted, then, by the alabaster cups of your small hands, one to my graying hair and one alighting my lips as softly as smoke. Residing then, in your eyes are burning irises. We are both innocuous and soft.
My hands lengthen into antlers.
Your heart races as a hare.
Red leaves and stags, red hares and trees. Rapture and old stones. Northern arborvitae, common apple. Autumn is always infernal here.
Eric Robert Nolan’s debut novel is the postapocalyptic science fiction
story, “The Dogs Don’t Bark In Brooklyn Any More.” It was published by
Dagda Publishing on November 19th, 2013, and is available at Amazon.com
both in paperback and for Kindle. Eric’s poetry and short stories have
been featured by Dagda Publishing, Every Day Poets, Every Day Fiction,
Illumen, Under The Bed, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, Dead Beats Literary
Blog, Microfiction Monday
Magazine, Dead Snakes, UFO Gigolo, The Bright Light Cafe, Aphelion,
Tales of the Zombie War, The International War Veterans’ Poetry Archive,