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Departments

Poetry
Today
Apples are dropping
all over Joppa
a windfall, a bagful
for horses and cattle.
Geese overhead
are baying like beagles.
The pears in the uphill
pasture lie yellow
a litter gone fallow
for stick pins of ground wasps.

The deer are in rut.
They race through the swales
and here on the marshy
spillway, a yearling
caught drinking, spies slantwise
two humans -- us, frozen
unbreathing, the same pair
who tracked him slobbering
apples today in
our Joppa back pasture.
-- Maxine Kumin

Irondequoit, Oswego, Canisteo
Piling as they will in mid-October
on unmown grass and still-intact impatiens,

those leaves could be the emblems of the names
that land on hills or settle into valleys

and later take their places on the maps
or in the histories of towns and cities,

as though they were indigenous as oak
or solid as the boulders on a mountain.

Irondequoit. Oswego. Canisteo.
Even to say them is to feel their weight,

though it's composed of little more than air
and though its content, felt or accidental,

may be at best a homely imitation
of things that are themselves no more substantial

than speeches that endured beyond the moment
and once-green forms that crumble underfoot.
-- Ben Howard

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OnEarth. Fall 2006
Copyright 2006 by the Natural Resources Defense Council