Autumn in a Pandemic

Fall is always my favorite time of year.

Crisp and crunchy brown and red leaves

Golden in the center

Glittering in the sun

In Kindergarten your class went to an apple orchard

You took turns climbing to the top of stacked hay bales

Shoving each other out of position at the top

Drinking fresh apple cider

Wearing forest green coats and plaid flannel shirts

You could count on fall

And school, again

And notebooks full of blank white pages

And upturned faces sitting at desks and staring expectantly

I love the air when we walk to the bus stop

The sun shining through the trees as I walk down the hill

You waved goodbye through the window

And when I picked you up in the afternoon

I said how was school

And you said it was good

I said what was the best part

And you said lunch

Or recess

In Kindergarten your teacher said

you could greet her with a hug, a high five, or a fist bump

In second grade, this year

You met your teacher on a screen

Some kids had connection problems

Or forgot to mute

Across the state kids boarded buses wearing masks

Teachers stood frightened behind plexiglas

And the football stands were quiet and still and empty

It's early September and nothing about fall feels like fall

Your new backpack arrived last month 

I left it in the box underneath the cupboard

Unopened, like our expectations, held off

Every morning we were happy

when we didn't wake up sick

When our grandparents lived

Isolated, but alive

And grocery store workers and nurses gritted their teeth

The air hung stalely in late August

Mold and ragweed made it heavy

Farmers awaited a fruitful harvest

After another wet spring

Everyone still needed to eat

On Sunday mornings we rang the church bells

Here we are, a tiny voice cries out

We are living still

The wind blows

The leaves, still green, cling to the branches

Soon they will fall

And somehow we will endure.

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