by May Swenson

october_swensonNow and then, a red leaf riding 

the slow flow of gray water. 

From the bridge, see far into 

the woods, now that limbs are bare, 

ground thick-littered. See, 

along the scarcely gliding stream, 

the blanched, diminished, ragged 

swamp and woods the sun still 

spills into. Stand still, stare 

hard into bramble and tangle, 

past leaning broken trunks, 

sprawled roots exposed. Will 

something move?—some vision 

come to outline? Yes, there— 

deep in—a dark bird hangs 

in the thicket, stretches a wing. 

Reversing his perch, he says one 

Chuck.” His shoulder-patch 

that should be red looks gray. 

This old redwing has decided to 

stay, this year, not join the 

strenuous migration. Better here, 

in the familiar, to fade.

This is the last stanza from May Swenson’s “October” from Nature: Poems Old and New. Read the complete poem.


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