Winter knocks quietly at the door,
Leaves its card,
Onions hang in bags from the cellar beams,
A barrel of sauerkraut becoming itself in the kitchen,
A gas flame under a stainless cauldron of redcabbage, boiling its way into Freezer bags.
The family cat growing imperceptibly larger and furrier,
Pouncing and rolling about in piles of cold blazing leaves.
A letting go of the trappings and habits of summer: Shorts,
loose fitting shirts, and physical exuberances which
Require long hours of daylight.
Fuel drops before the snarl of an antique chainsaw,
(bought right from a man who specialized in its use)
Standing back up, much shorter for the trouble, as the rows
Of the woodpile grow deeper,
And the shadows longer.
Late Autumn encourages the acceptance of the seasons in flux,
As we are driven inside by the impatient cold
To think about it for awhile, warmed by the yield of previous
Along the tannin-stained river, the residents conspire
In two days
To erase the path left by their neighbors forceful
Hauled on their backs,
Brittle fingers clawing desperately at the worn earth.
I think about this before I pull the cord,
Setting violence and clamorous echo
Upon this relative innocence.
The skies are clearer at night, the moon sharper behind the clutching
Fingers of dark naked trees which creak a little more, like
The old rocking chair whose runners have worn almost flat,
Disappearing into the floor.
Rain falls reluctantly, and with fair warning.
The sudden wind squalls hold more threat, putting the forest through its
Full range of motion, the wizened participants an impromptu fitness class.
Winter takes its time, where autumn moves in haste.
This rapid procession, stealing hours from the day, casually,
Rudely stripping oaks and maples alike of their painted
Faces, heightens the state of perception, asks the question,
What will tomorrow bring?
Splintered cable ends grab at shirtsleeves,
Poking maliciously at fingers hiding behind sap-sticky gloves.
Four wheels flinging plugs of damp earth
At whimsical inertia, sweat of muscle and gearbox mixed with
Loam and a persistent
Of bar and chain oil.
The hinge pops with a sound not unlike that of a
Cat’s jaws on a squirrel, as another
Tree crackles to the ground to be limbed, chained and
Dragged, reluctantly, to the waiting rakers and chisels,
And the airplane whine of the cordwood saw.