by Carol Alexander

Less plumage. Fewer pirate eyepatches skulking around the bins.
Pink retracts to notional seed, leaving a carapace of columbine
the brown of dead cigars. Turkey oaks extrude ungainly acorns,
splayed feet knotted by precipitate gusts of wind.
Spackled squirrels with autoimmune disease, dock-tailed, slow.
Less water from the decommissioned drinking fountains
save when southern rains blow in & slap the cheek
but fall has come— the fortunate fall, proof of a diurnal round.
Those old poems are hauntings (the first steam engines scream)
from the very sudden impulse of this world’s mortality.
Your less than & mine: those monstrous nineteenth-century hats
bedecked with snowy egret, with ostrich & gone grebe dyed bright, my dear,
broken tankers gunking feathers up & scales, the sea humming faintly
all the way from elsewhere to the hard-bitten Battery.
Advertising couplets before sleep. Winter’s henna tracings on the palm.