Propelled by last night’s heavy rains,
the leaves pirouette to the ground,
blanketing the brown sere grass
in a quilt of many colors,
clogging the downspouts,
filling in the tunnels
the moles had dug out in the spring.
A hard winter lies ahead,
the farmer’s almanach says.
He can hear the staccato bursts
of hickory nuts hitting the roof.
Already the first frost warning
has sent him scurrying
to move the potted plants indoors.
And now the leaves.
Their sheer quantity is overwhelming.
He could shovel them in his sleep
and still never be finished.
He starts by gathering them
in meticulous mounds
and shoving them into
black plastic bags
tied with red ribbons
like bundles of Christmas gifts.
Next he dispenses with the bags
and rakes them onto
a tattered blue tarp
which he hauls away
like Amundsen dragging his sledge
across the frozen waste.
he aims the blower
and sends them sailing away
into the woods,
hoping against hope
the wind won’t turn on him
and send them back again.
Tidying up the yard, he thinks,
is a little like tidying up your life.
Things never stay put.
They’re always spilling over.
(Originally published in Cyclamens and Swords)