Hospice Valediction

by Mathew Paust

From a high branch among cranberry-red leaves

of the dogwood across the street

 a mockingbird trills his virtuoso appreciation

to the dawn sun's chromatic whimsy in the stratus layers

floating placidly far above

while nearer the unmarked columned portico,

its autumn flag aflutter in a chilling breeze,

youthful willow oaks grant solemn attention to the aluminum gurney

bearing a black-wrapped figure as it rolls in silence

to the plain van at the curb.

In a moment the lone attendant

secures the gurneyed figure

and without a word

drives it away.