I slow the car for copper turkey tails,
their bob-run up the road
obstructing country traffic.
I watch them jog. If I were in Ohio,
these might be enormous geese, but just as slow,
and obstinately loud, and I would relish them
for detaining me to listen to their noise and watch
them strut. Here, as in Ohio, birds turn
off the road in their own time. And here, an avenue
of crimson maple trees along a farmhouse drive
is losing all its slowly drying leaves, bright color
cascading to the ground in synchronized retreat.
The sky is still a stubborn chipper blue,
as twilight autumn skies so often are in Oregon. I wait.
Last night in Ohio, my mother’s house was robbed
by poised potential buyers.
Left alone for just a moment,
they took the light-pink pearls
I brought her back from Indonesia, took
her husband’s wedding ring, took
the one necklace from my grandma.
My mom has called her realtor, who will not call her back.
The turkeys move their heavy-laden
feather-loads across the spinout gravel
and down into the valley. I continue on.
The trees lift beside the road so easily;
the hills exchange an open view
for only road in alternating lurches
of acceleration. Today, a man
I loved became a man I hate
in the matter of a conversation.
The undulating highway
lifts enough to see a western crest
dusted in evergreens so distant
their firs are fine, blue fuzz.
I go on autumn drives
because the crispness of the air brings back
apples’ tang when they’re in season
and picking fruit once it is ready
at Aunt Melissa’s farm.
I briefly think seasons will spin
the way they always have, that the auburn
in my hair will never fade and dry
like every autumn leaf. Is either thought there true?
Another turn here. I note the sky, now darkening.
I mount another hill. The air’s too quiet
to ignore when I slow to round the bends.
The peeper calls have hushed from cold,
the tree frogs all gone hiding, the lizards
burrowed underground. The earth is cycling
closer to the sun; in seven days I’ll set the clock
an hour back. Last week my friend called
to ask me, one month from her delivery,
if I could reassure her for two minutes
that she will love enough, that she will be sufficient
as a mother. Her mother called to make her wonder.
I don’t know why we drive
our burdens into violence on each other,
pressing others down just to clutch a little higher.
I watch a flock of geese slip overhead,
so high I cannot hear them, and briefly think,
they’ll follow me!, and then, there should be more
of them. So natural in the air. We aren’t alone, here,
or higher. Migration, in its rhythm, this group
preoccupation, makes the thought of leaving softer,
the spinning earth a toy of merer consequence.
It reminds me that I’ll see this line of maples
green again in half a year. That green again
will call us on. We turn amid the turning.