Summer Ends as a Woman Takes her Coffee Break

Like Autumn,
I will need to change
my life again. For this
woman, how she leans
on the black chair,
as if she had always been
a girl. The dry creek of
her back,
the naked feet, both have
waded here
together from a shallow river of sun.
And spearing through
her hair, a birthmark,
like a reflection
of an arrowhead,
the first
leaf bruised with cold,
but pale, as if
she had been painting,
in case winter
was coming again.

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I wonder how others feel love.
Her, under that streetlamp,
fallen snow in black hair, like an infinitesimal
constellation of wounds, then tears, like bright new worlds?
And, me, unmoving,
the sidewalk scouring her into spirit,
her bootprints quitting the path?
Do others wonder, when the day scissors flesh
into shadows, that hers swims too darkly to be unskinned,
or is a scrap of soul blind as an eclipse.
Like me, do they wear, threadbare
with regret, the coat of that night sewn
by moths of its snowy incandescence?

Questions on how to live from a campsite east of Pinetree Lake, Algonquin in February

If your name’s Nick, does it hurt
to have a nickname? Is it strange that fire,
which can’t be touched,
can bring feeling back to hands?
Why is there no word for beauty?
And, along the same lines,
why is certain wood called Ash,
long before it burns? You would think that love
could at least let itself be held
(yes, you, backwards magnet),
like the bundle of firewood
I carry in my arms,
ready to give it up for
its revelation of warmth.

The low fox trails

I see how the low fox trails,
like sister currents,
cling to the pauses of
birch creeks,
and in them, my heart,
tired of its flesh,
my tree-and-snow country
leading away from the down commas
that blot the seat next to me,
leaked from a winter coat.

Wish

The wind plays
at being startled by my presence,
and rakes my body for wishes
my eyes have made, the silver cravings of
two coins. It is falling head
over heals to carry you over dirt,
follows as I walk across Macdonell’s Field
until peering into the Mennonite well,
I see into the neck of the heavenly earth,
and the bare brown trees circling
our extinct sun. And in each step, the ground waits
to feel what it must give into next.
What if a word could breathe on its own,
or swim in a pail which we would draw up,
and shining, coldly, let us drink from it?

Winter

Thursday evening the dogs run ahead
through the unraked cheeks of leaves. I’ve let things stay
and circle around too much. I’ve lost the air
for other things. The drive into the city for winter tires,
the tail-lights that need repair, the brakes
I’ve been riding too long.
I stand here at the door
a little while more, and let the dogs
feed scraps of barks into the breeze.
I suppose, to them, its seems alive, shuffling along,
casting out and resurrecting the dead. But dogs
shouldn’t dream. Night’s here, the week is ending.
In a few minutes, winter returns.

Leaves

One feels nothing
when the first days of November
arrive to fill in the wind-scoured constellations of geese
or to carry away
the sour mounds of apricot,
October peeled away.
One wonders,
where do the deer sleep here,
in November,
wake, cut away
under the grey trance of sky
when the blind car unzips its haste down
the threadbare road revealing
crops of still life too ingrown for
decay and that crisscross beneath
the unspoken snow,
yet to make landfall.