by Jeanne C. Howes in Connecticut
If you've only raked in October when the leaves
are bright air light balloons that float and snap
in party-colored mood wind-mounted on
a carousel, when blade-crisp air is gemmed
with grapes, lacy with smoke and smoldering gold
of sparks before the frosty night comes down,
come out and get the feel of waking earth;
come out and rake at clean-up time in spring.
Tug at the wooden handle, feel the weight
of the winter-packaged leaves pressed down and folded,
stuffed between the crevices of rock
and packed beneath ledge and broken boughs,
layered flat in soggy sheets of brown
in earthy shades, tobacco, mocha, bronze,
and leather scraps, discarded oak leaf shapes
designing sandal patterns for a band
of gnomes. Rumple the heavy blankets up
between green velvet moss and mushroom caps,
turn back the dank dull undersheets of mold's
rich moist decay, the nourisher of life.
Thin April sun and sherbet flavored air,
the smell of snuffy spice brown leaves and rank
skunk cabbage. Redwings and robins on the hill,
fungus on a rotting branch, new leaves
of tough pipsissewas, new sprouting tips
of daffodils in clumps among trees.
Push off the piles of long forgotten leaves,
expose the dark wet stains where they have lain,
scratch up the soil and stir the life within.
copyright ©2006 The Country Woman