Fall colors warm her sweet face,
deep reds and blushing oranges snuggling
into the gentle wrinkles at her cheeks;
the low light off the fading greens
bounce from the brown of her sweater to my eyes,
the softness I cannot myself believe.
Contained in one tiny, aging human
is the breath of ages seen and past—
each petite wrinkle is a memory of
laughter and play, the meadows at dawn,
the whimpering brook of the forests, the
birdsong in the high branches of the willow.
Gentle is the lily petal, the fragrance
wrapping around her shaking hand and filling
my nostrils with ripened bloom.
She extends her hand to me, offering
the flower; between my two fingers
I take it, whirl it, raise it to my lips
and kiss it twice. It takes on a spiced
aroma, the spicy scent of approaching decay,
hinting, lingering, and I wonder
if it was so good to have taken it
from the root. A growing, tender smile on her
untroubled face tells me the root would have
only kept the lily fresh for a moment longer.
With inevitable decay, the beauty was to be
enjoyed, as beauty merits—
preservation making its nest in harmonious
memory. Closing my eyes, I still see
her half-moon smile, the rings of light
around her eyes. I still see
her outstretched hand, offering the lily.