The color of October afternoon
Gave the light pause and lingered. Autumn sighed
A last and western breath. The sidelong moon
Dim in the aster sky seemed great with tide
Growing to spring in evening, and our ride
Across the river, climbing with the trees,
Had stroked to silence all but the brute stride
Of engine firing to its own decrees
Yet underfoot, locked in, and self-consumed like a disease.
We had come through in stealth along a road
That weather wrinkled. Time had stood apart
To watch the trees take back what men had owed
And lapsed in death and debt. A land too hard,
Too grudging, broke them, ending with the heart.
And we went there, smooth on our springs and tires,
Past graveyards seeming laid there from the start
And holes of houses fallen, whose desires
Would darken had they stood, ringed with rugosa briers.
And autumn paused where the road had met an end
In a house grown like a grave and standing still.
I killed the rage of engine with a hand
And we set foot on earth. Time had our will,
Autumn our heart. An air flowed down the hill
And loosened leaves that flittered in the light:
The house grew darker as the gathering chill
Whitened the moon and touched the pines with night,
Biding a time, a fall with all its winter weight.
We moved. The windows gathered in our shade
But gave back nothing. We were there alone
In an emptying air, called by a world inside,
Treading unbalanced on the threshold stone
And low behind us an impending moon
That spent its light upon each wasted pane:
The year, the day and light, all we might own
Of mortal seasons, failed in that dying lane,
And we turned back, our headlights sifting
the night like rain.
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