Preoccupations of a Fall Afternoon

On this sunny, pleasantly brisk, fall afternoon
I tread a well-worn path through woods.
Chirping birds nest in trees with leaves ablaze
in multi-colored grandeur. Beside the path, various
fall flowers–goldenrods, sunflowers, asters—are in
bloom, their moments of splendor having finally come.
Ladybug beetles swarm the path, seeking ‘neath stones, in
dead trees or wood debris shelter from the oncoming cold.
The overhead sky is filled with flocks of honking,
southbound Canada geese flying in V-formations.

I barely notice, so much else is on my mind.
A close friend, who was downsized from his job
only weeks before qualifying for his pension
and now faces bank foreclosure on his home,
called with news that his wife of twenty plus years
has left him. Unable to cope with their financial
burdens, she has found refuge with another.
He was despondent and quipped about suicide.
He said he was only joking but I’m very worried.
Also troubling my mind are today’s headlines:
poverty, homelessness, endless war, scoundrel
politicians, mother earth crumbling around us.
And I’m stressed about a missing document
that I’ve hopefully only misplaced and not lost.
Such are my preoccupations this late afternoon.

Rounding a curve in the path, I observe a cottontail
grazing in tall grass, unaware of my presence.
A few steps further, I spot a coyote, hiding in
thick brush, eyeing its quarry. Seeing me, it makes
tracks, alerting the cottontail, who also scurries to
safety. Moving ahead, I startle a gull, scratching for
worms, and it takes flight. My abrupt appearance
has ruined the dinner of all three critters.
Beyond the trees is an eatery where I shall dine.
I wonder if I will enjoy it. Or will my dinner too
be ruined by the preoccupations in my head?

Floyd D. Anderson lives in Brockport, New York, and can be reached at Read other articles by Floyd D..