The tourists come to these woods
in cars and buses that choke highways,
and mighty glad we are
in New Hampshire
for the dollars that keep our diners,
the mom-and-pop motels,
the state and national parks,
country stands bursting apple and pumpkin,
entrepreneurs who drive
up and down a stretch of road,
promising moose-sighting —
viable for the locals
to enjoy the rest of the year,
(except perhaps the moose).
They come for foliage,
and that’s what they insist on,
though their guides point out
that guessing peak
is difficult in each year’s weather.
They want great splashes of color,
hill after hill painted
in amber and gold,
scarlet, ochre, umber, even purple,
a landscape’s dying splendor.
But every year I look carefully
for the first leaf to turn
and the last to drop,
for the single leaf that catches
this light of sunset,
or crunches under my foot.
I want my time leaf by leaf –
the tweet of the season,
a friend’s numbered breaths.
(Trying to be fair to my friends who use their twitter accounts for responsible communication and even for changing the world, just in case my recent poem has made them feel unloved)
(Grateful to Carolyn Venema for this photograph)