At a Crossroads in Autumn

Jesse Schaub


Who laid these paths of dirt to intersect
And force, near winter’s brink, such indecision?
They must’ve faced themselves a motive wrecked—
Direction spliced, as mine now yields to fission.

My aim in May seemed clear, and having traveled
Since spring, the town is seen, if through a haze.
Yet here—is this, by knotted roads, unraveled?
This other trail, far-off, cuts through a maze,

One dense and void of foliage as stone—
Though not unlike my destination’s clearing.
November’s stripped its branches to the bone;
What woods remain the wind has raked with shearing.

In fall, such leaves are swept aside as litter:
Old moments dried and scattered, used and tossed.
To me, this season either way is bitter—
When life is reaped or left to suffer frost,

And Earth whirls onward, iced-slicked, unforgiving,
It feels as though you’re forced to choose a death:
Among the lifeless, or among the living.
I stand before the crossroads, fogged with breath.