November feels like the wale of a corduroy calendar, a hike along herringboned pavement, hearing the unshaven whiskers scratch fingerprints, seeing soles scuffle over street pavers, as Hopper's tender light sprays warmth on russet brick walls at dawn. A west wind breaks that last scarlet leaf from a noisy maple branch. These dark north clouds, purple layers of slate slide over vacant hay fields, the stubbles wait for snow. By the fence, the shed skin of a corn snake catches on barbed wire. Expired paint dries, chips peel from splintered barns. Seven buzzards spread on six limbs of wind-scrubbed sycamore, the winter breath on the bark quakes like my mother's ancient face. November stirs at the oak coda, the hymn of acorns, the route of rising moons. But the leaf sins, falls, separates from the twig only to become one with earth.
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)