When nothing remains of November
But bare trees and thin-stemmed memories
And the moon’s aloft and aloof,
A cool eye surveying the stars
Retreating to the distance of night,
And the white-throated sparrow’s song tells you
The sharp-shinned hawk has taken its hunger
South away from the ice forming
In morning puddles as practice
For January deep incursions
Into salt marsh and river and bay
The hunter returns from his oil rig,
Sits oiling his gun and dreaming
Of the coyote’s gait imprinted
In dustings of snow around pig barns
And of fresh fewmets at edges of woods.
If you happen to question his questing,
Why he scrubs himself in early morning
And refuses to smoke before the hunt?
It’s because there’s no wind that ain’t fickle
And those sharp-nosed fuckers, he says,
They taste each caprice of the breeze
And they’d be gone like an oil baron
Smelling taxes on a politician’s
Morning breath. He’ll pick up the rifle,
He’ll sight down the long barrel, one eye closed,
And consider the consistency
Of droppings rubbed between fingers and thumb.
Might say, And the temperature, John boy!
They’re close if there’s any heat in that shit.