South Of Red-Wing
Poem By John Jenkinson
I wake up on the wrong side of the equinox,
geese in isosceles stitches
trace a path down the world's face, stop
to ravish the harvest's sun-dried trash
piled in furrows and hedgerows.
A clatter of crows pleats the air
with black derision, brushes a red-wing
off the taut wire of her discretion.
Summer's long truce broken, the mice
have returned to the catfood, gnawed
dank passage to that heavy yellow sack,
peppered our floor with their delicate scat.
This bounty of need, feeling
the leaves crack as the cat stalks
his own red meal, whiskers his way
through the crisp buffalo grass.
Something has burrowed into the half-assed
pumpkin patch - skunk, badger,
another hair-shirt mendicant
telling her beads along the food chain,
clicking the beetles' lacquer-thin shells,
snapping brittle seed-hulls
in her frowsty cell, far from the sun's ache,
taking no thought for the morrow.
Thin fires kiss the evenings now
beneath the railway trestle; and the men
with cardboard signs, trolling the highways
in denim and flannel, all drift south.