The Annual Under-Winter Assault

by: beth Oast Williams

Already it’s rained too much. Water
pools at the base of the pecan tree
and her leaves pull hard, begging
to dive in. Mama tries to hold them, tight
by the toes, so they won’t fall.

Slowly, autumn’s creep forces
her to let go, to stand without bending,
and encourage their flight on the smallest
of breeze, each leaf landing
just beyond the reach of her shade.

September, the separation month
when I feel the sharpest pain of an empty
nest, the storm blowing what’s left of life
out of the house, and children in their rush
to escape, not stopping to rake their trails.

I mourn with the pecan as she stands
empty handed, her fallen flesh scraped
into giant piles. She suffers through the stomp
of boots, as her leaves break into bits, their bones
like gravestones littering the yard.


Beth Oast Williams is a student with the Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Lou Lit, West Texas Literary Review, Wisconsin Review, The Bookends Review, Willard and Maple, and Glass Mountain, among othersShe was nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize in poetry. A former librarian, Beth still spends most of her time trying to make order out of chaos.