Requiem

In late October, the colors of this painted landscape begin to run, summer’s greens sighing yellow, ambers wrung into ocher, umbers burning scarlet and vermillion. The hill-lands are subtle symphonies, played in green-gold pianissimo over October. Then, at the cusp of the month, they crescendo crimson and amber into November.

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Along the Wildgraben, make a nest amongst birches. Read the years scrawled across their letter-paper bark in metered lines. Their canopies are galaxies of yellow stars, falling in meteor showers to scatter the woods with light. The path is fish-scaled with flakes of this fool’s gold, wind-sifted, treacherous treasure.

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The trees burn from tip to root, flames cinnamon-hot atop, and simmering yellow in the lower boughs. Like tunnels of torches they line the walk. I traipse this redlight avenue—it is like living in the lantern, like sheltering under a butterfly’s wing, like scarlet futures in a gypsy’s caravan.

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The banks of the Rhein river are knitted with vineyards, combed rows of green and champagne-gold. From braided skeins the fields are woven around me, an October argyle shot through with threads of claret. Steep-roofed townhouses jostle on the narrow shores, chimneys lacy with smoke. A pale steeple punctuates each village, orderly as schoolbook grammar, marking the architectural semantics of the Rheinland. In the wild aeries of the eastern crags, castle ruins perch like hawks and hunching eagles, watching Autumn burn south along the river. Then, through clouds’ winter woolens, sunlight sprays. Glass-blue rays shatter over the waves.

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Did the Exquisite, the Luminous, the Incarnadine Glory exist before Autumn? What monochromatic dystopia will December uncover? Did the world know color before Autumn burned vermillion into the fields?

Now, in the borderlands between October and November, color flees like a dream at dawn. One morning I will wake to find trees stripped to skeletons, woodland transformed to charnel house. I will give requiem then, requiem for October, color’s mother, and requiem for her children, their names still aflicker with kaleidoscopic poetry: cinnabar, citrine, claret, foxfur, finchfeather, filemot, goldenrod, gaslight, incarnadine, isabelline, jacinthe, jessamy, lovat, mazarine, morel, oxblood, ochre, russet, saffron, sage, stargaze, sarcoline, sepia, sorrel, titian, vermeil, and vesper’s candle.

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