Quietly the country cleared from dark soil
the drying, dying stalks of towered corn,
the soy grown papery with age, wheat fields shorn
of plumed peaks, vined gourds, late berries, each coil
of grapes. Night inched into day, thickened frost
on stoop and step, buried rose and bulb. Day
grew dim and restless wrapped in fall. The clay,
the peat, the rich topsoil with cold embossed
its seal. Everything turned inward, grave, steeled.
Often had unknown lows, uncertain length
brought down these barren months, whose hearts for strength
in seed sheltered time’s collected thought. So kneeled
the season to its axe, and land, desperate
of change, fell rapt into life’s ancient net.

published as “Autumn,” Oyez Review, 2005