they circled the sky like ripples on blue water. winter was on the tips of their wings, and as they flew i saw them shake it off with every flap flap of their feathers.

i was sitting with mom, feeding her granola. she and i were watching the sky and the ripple effect of the birds. suddenly we realized they were flying north, in the heart of autumn. we looked at each other and laughed. “they must have a new leader,” i said to mom, who was shaking in mirth. “eventually they’ll realize and they’ll fire him. it’ll be winter and we’ll see them flapping past again, like this…” i mimicked the birds, their wings heavy with snow, their heads downcast, “feeling very silly.”

mom tilted her head back and laughed like a little girl. she put her hand on my arm. she was having a shaky day, but her thoughts were very real and cognitive. “you are so cute,” she said, and loved me with her eyes.

we turned back to the granola and the sky, but in my heart a candle burned, a memorial for the memory which had just conspired.