A quiet sadness settles into the garden this morning,
A forlorn, end-of-life grief.
Roses once entwined in the trellis,
Their crimson petals peeking through the openings,
Now stripped of their beauty.
Impatiens with their salmon, deep rose, and pale pink petals
Have  thrived all summer in the shade under the pines,
Now close to gone,
Green leaves hiding a few lingering blooms.

But there, anchoring the edge of the garden,
There in the corner remains the glory of the coleus–
Painted nettle–
Its burgundy, velvety foliage outlined perfectly in pale green,
Determined, strong,
As lovely now as in its summer beauty,
Surrounded by a blanket of rusty brown pine needles.
No need for colorful blooms,
Its foliage all the show.
Not ready yet to let go,
Like the way we all hang on at the end,
Reluctance within our veins.

The coleus will die with the first frost.
It most likely knows that will come.
But for now,
For today,
On this cool October morning
Mid the languishing remnants
Of summer heat and cooling rain showers,
The coleus brings a moment of hope
Into the dying of nature.

© Barbara Flass 2011


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