Ed Harkness
One Less Fall

From here you can smell the age of the year
in the air, its odor of decay, the river sheen
a slurry of cottonwood and pine, hill and sky.

Grass has gone tan on Clemens Ridge,
that slope we always meant to climb
to take in the wider view. Kingfisher, you say,

your favorite, chittering upstream, then down,
like we do on our walks, together and alone.
It gets harder, though, to see the end

of earth tones, to face the empty face
of what’s to come, where now we’re borne
on the river’s clatter at this low water time.

You say the boulders look like bones
in the current. Only this late do they emerge
exposed like black eggs, hidden

more often than not, as some thoughts are,
the ones that lie in the deeper channels.
All the summer warblers have moved on:

grosbeak, tanager, siskin—gone.
The land prepares for hard freezes,
then snow, then a season of pallid light.

One less fall. Now, though, afternoon sun
reveals more of what we love.
A gust of wind scatters the last papery

aspen leaves in a swirl of joy. Some sail
all the way across to Old River Road.
Those that light on the river will travel far.