Again this fall, like squirrels, we scrabble
barely ahead of our hunger.
Nights are colder, the daytime sky
as brittle as a promise on the brink of break.
On the football field, the marching band
in full fringe and cockatoo plumage
blares a Polonaise flattened by an apathy
of brass and a single laggard drum—
but four straight defeats? This season’s lost
by any measure. Soon, grimy drifts will lean
against a chain-link fence so cold it rings.
Gutter ice will flaunt a malicious grit.
Cringe and hunker the only sane postures.
The cheerleading squad will choose to see it
as a test of mettle. Coach will claim it’s a season
of re-building. You’ll tell me one more time
that spring will come, the days lengthen,
the squirrels again stuff their little faces.
I know, I know: it’s promise after promise
in this world, each one of them iron-clad.
Until it isn’t.