Tell me how to live in October,
how to ride in the pleasant air
with the trees ringing in my head,
ding-dong, red and yellow;
how to hear the whoosh of the cold wind
with a leaf or two coming in
when the door opens.

Structure is everything.
Anyone can build the house,
but nobody builds the bluebird.
In the spring last year’s fledglings return,
making a new nest from scurf and trash
on top of the old one.

Tell me how to be like a leaf in autumn,
how to hand over my essential juices
to the twig, and thence to the branches,
the trunk, the roots. Tell me how to know
the exact moment to drop, and then do it;
how to rise in a pleasant arc
with the wind crimping my edges,
flip-flop, orange and umber,
over the back of a steep ridge
into the cold twilight.

October 22, 1999

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