When the last of summer crashes
into the first of fall,
leaves drop, catch the water,
hurry in gullies across the pond

When the smell of wood smoke, gaps in fences,
a chill and growing carelessness,
persuade the fox to wade into the sun
where it gathers in the yard, and lie down

When this turtle who warms himself,
neck and head fully extended,
two skinny hind legs draped over his rock,

is not unaware that the currents are cooling
and the ghost of the equinox has
vanished into the corn

When the orange and black bristles
of the woolly bear caterpillar,
who hatches in autumn and matures in spring,

are bitten by frost,
he will curl up his core, slip inside of a log,
harden into a worm of ice

After the swamp simmers to hot coals,
the turtle sinks into sleep
at the bottom of the pond

I will sit by the fire and ponder
the thawing caterpillar, who,
in a few months’ time, will begin eating away
at the edges of the night