A sparrow lights
among the open cones
high in the white pine.
Then slips, a leaf
travelling the green ladders
down to the spiced humus
which feeds on all things
missing, all things lost.
The cloven prints of deer,
a squirrel’s immaculate spine,
and somewhere between
the wind and the gray leaves
a far-off waterfall
pours through the cold air,
dismantling a tree,
stripping away the bodies
that the souls may not
linger here among us.
The migrant orioles
disown the paintless birdhouse
vacant in the birch.
Pendulous with grapes, vines
scrawl across the lattice,
scattering raisins
darkened with wine
into the black breakdown of soil.
For years a neighbor swept
the long, cloud-colored
boards of his porch,
and the grit suspended,
like the sound of the axe
in the stacked wood.
Now he lives where even
the wind dissolves,
in a house of breathless passages,
the windows open to birds and snow,
a lock full of rust on the door.

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