Up a lattice of sumac and into the spars
of the elderberry, the first pumpkin vine had climbed,
and a week after first frost
great pendulous melons dangled like gods
among the bunches of lesser berries
and the dazzled, half-drunken birds.
Then the pumpkins fell, each mythical fruit’s
dried umbilicus giving way in a rush
of gold and snow of elliptical leaves.
A skull thud, the dull thunk of rupture,
a thin smoke then, like a soul, like dust.
But the last, high up and lodged
in a palm of limbs and pithy branches,
sways now in the slightest breeze and freeze
after freeze caves in on itself
and will, by spring, cast its black
leathery gaze out over the garden
like the mummy of a saint or an infirm
and desiccated pope. Below, where the others fell,
that seed not eaten by winter birds,
one, say, buried in meat and a sheath
of skin, will rise. From its blunt,
translucent nubbin, a leaf trifoliate
and a stalk as succulent as bamboo, it will climb
blithe as a baby Christ up the knees
of the wood it cannot know it is bound for.
Image credit: DrBacchus’s “Pumpkins”