The pale yellow of elm leaves
spots and mats the surface of the street
beneath the trees lining the avenue.
In the dim light of a cloud-covered dawn,
I drive slowly along Greenway
and head up the hill toward Summit, turn north.
Past the last traffic light at Skyline,
I join the moving pack of people
winding their way toward jobs at Strother or Winfield.
A few of us split off onto the back route
where Country Club Road connects 77 and 160,
a short cut on a longer drive to Wichita.
Heading west toward Wellington,
I feel the sudden shudder of a strong north wind,
not having noticed as long as I was driving straight into it.
I guess it usually is the sideways slap
that catches us off-guard, the hard awakening
of resistance at a different angle than what we expected.
Driving past the shorn stubble of cotton fields,
I look back to the south and see the long angle
of a dark storm cloud hanging over Ark City,
the last bit of the most recent shroud of gloom.
It’ll be gone by noon, I suppose,
and the good light of a new day
will stroke the lingering leaves of pin oak and maple,
the cheering tones of sweet gum and ash,
the last bright colors of this passing season.
Crossing the bridge into Oxford,
I see the lightening face of the Arkansas River
and wish that I could linger here for a day or two.
I am tired of the clouds and darkness
and long to walk along the banks,
staring deeply into slow waters,
give thanks for the promise of rest
that must wait until these days of testing
will yield their own good harvest
to those who refuse to grow weary of doing good,
who cling to a Greater Light
than that of a red ball sunrise blazing the treeline
of long fields off to the east beside I-35.