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Raking near the Great Works

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October, and the leaves turned late but strong.
Rock maples and the reds, clear brazen, blaze
long-burning feats of sugar through our ways.
Their strident hold upon the back roads pulls
our morning drive, out to where Oak Woods Road
crosses the river that they call Great Works.
The nearby fields so rich it’s hard to breathe—
the hay treacly with auburn, grasses bronzed—
we stop before a red farmhouse, just shy
of where the river runs, where maple trees
have laid the front lawns ravished with their loss.
From Booker’s truck we pull out sacks and tools,
proceed to gather up the autumn’s spoils.
He holds each big bag open, and I rake
the broad red leaves together and inside.
The crop is so much greater than our work
could ever capture, even as we press
it in, right close, to fill October’s urge,
but we have cleared a windfall just the same:
A clarity, the season’s morning hues,
and our sweet chore have worked an art of fall.
As autumn and the Great Works trickle by,
we skim as much brimmed crimson as these few
stout bags will hold within, enough to lay
four inches of the fall upon his fields.
October's task has raked the colors high.
To turn 'em in, the soil to bed with yield,
is just as good as planting winter rye.

Source: Poetry (January 2006)

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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Raking near the Great Works

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