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West Tisbury MA; November

Sleek vested creatures -- mice, voles, or relatives

unknown; sharp-nosed, sharp-eyed, whisking your purposed

ways beneath bent stover, each hair hard-wired for

danger or a lucky fallen morsel near

the trail -- we’re sudden cousins: here, in pale

northwest light, in a dry field dreaming of snow,

where brown stalks rasp and autumn asters furnish

lingering points of blue.


                                    The waxwings have taken

fall leave, their buzzy chat deferred to berry times.

A woodcock zips up his travel bag. In short

a sketch from Breughel -- if a hawk-shaped shadow

didn’t override the scene. The audio cuts off,

all rustles cease. White shirtfronts pressed to earth, ears

flat, my small companions freeze. Caught clumsily

I do the same: stand mute until the silent

hunting shade floats past.

Between indifferent strikes

the chill times out, our whiskered plans resume.

I’ll gather kernels from the corncob sun

and harbor them until the winter’s done.

Version first published in Watered Colors (2014)

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