Tangled gnarled branches
withered and wavering
against the dismal gusts
and hardened autumn gaze
of gray impassive sky.

Long since the clutching leaves
were soft and full and warm,
long since the shade and sun
embraced and dappled earth
o’erspread with romping play.

No matter when cold still
upright stance gives starker
notice in advance of
greener expectations
than approaching snow.

Endless in name only
whatever ends beyond
the limits of our sight:
the sky’s expanse of gray,
the tangled time, the night.

Oak Tree by the Elbe in Winter, Johan Christian Dahl