October’s entered wearing a scent,
a blend of wood smoke, hint of late rose
and tattered lavender, that burnt-latex

aroma left when a kid’s peeled off after
slamming the door, rain-damp tobacco
smolder, fresh rot of fallen apples—

she must hope we’ll at least nod to her
if not bow, not just turn to another
calendar picture of autumn’s gold aspens,

not simply gearshift the nerves to type 10
for the month. To not fall for the name
but into the body and breath, the long light

playing the wakes of ducks on the pond
between the stadium and the lake. To stop
and honor the battered heads of the rushes.

To look out across the landfill flats,
sundown rust on the countless brown cones
of what was the Queen Anne’s lace, ragged

and leaning together like spent exiles
right where they’ve thrived. They’re brittle
and quietly click in the gusts. October,

camp where a vanished moon will return
to bless the wind-shaken twigs, here,
where summer’d spread a sharp pennyroyal

odor around the pond’s rim, I draw in
hard through the nostrils, the summer spell
gone. All the young ducks are grown

and proud in their squabbles. Here she is,
October or Winterfylleth or god knows
what to call her. My shoes in her mud,

I’m half-wishing October were somebody
else. I’m part back before the smoke,
before September’s drop ceiling of ash,

and part drawn to a new month’s perfume,
lingering char in the air, whiff of muck,
mix of spores, ozone of the imminent

storm, fragrance of worms, and the notes
my nose can’t detect, a Coho somewhere
nearby in an osprey’s grip, close

as a coyote must be seizing a rabbit
from under the dusk-umber cover of wild
carrot. October stretches before me,

the brush turns velvet, and I breathe her
incense of reckon and loss into my own
slow wreck of muscle and bone. October,

what are we to lay to rest? I hear a siren
crossing the lake bridge. I inhale first
leaf-dust—I’m lost in your ocher dress.





Photo used under CC.