Stick Season

By Sydney Lea

-For Peter Gilbert

The one that precedes my season is the one that always shows
in those quaint calendar photographs, the one that brings the tourists
to a scene that is sumptuous, granted—exorbitant on the sidehills,
most of the leaves incandescent, drifting or plunging downward
to scuttle along the roadbeds like little creatures reluctant
to be seen, yet wanting us to notice them after all.

But give me this: middle November, season of sticks,
of stubborn oak and beech leaves, umber and dun, which rattle
in gusts that smell so elemental they stab your heart.
The trees—the other, unclothed ones—are standing there,
gaunt but dignified, and you can look straight through them
to the contours of the mountains, stark, perhaps, but lovely

in their apparent constancy. That gap-toothed barn
houses space alone since its owner died. Do you remember
Studebakers? That’s one over there, a pickup truck,
flat-footed among the sumacs. Painted green way back,
these days it has taken the hue of these later leaves I love.
Old age has changed the mountains too. They’re rounder now

than once, worn smoother. Everything is for a time.

Sydney Lea, a former Pulitzer finalist, recently published his thirteenth collection of poems, “Here.” Shortly ago, Able Muse published “The Exquisite Triumph of Wormboy,” a graphic mock epic in collaboration with former Vermont Cartoonist Laureate James Kochalka.

Originally published in Issue 19.

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