Half an hour before sunset, the day before
Thanksgiving, I steady the ladder to clean
gutters on the garage because rain
is forecast for midnight. The arch of maples,
bare and gray above like the next season,
has given me everything. So it's time.
I move, arm-span by arm-span along the eaves
as my hands toss leaves, crunch by crunch,
to the ground while good neighbor Lou
rides his John Deere in the cold; it softer
to him than three daughters in the house
and louder to me than a banshee chorus.
The evening, autumn sharp like those
I favor, dims. I finish and stow the ladder
as cardinals tick vespers in bamboo.
A Carolina warbler, who should have flown
there weeks ago, flies clothesline dips, pauses
in last light, gives song, then dives
into ivy on the neighbor's garage.
“Why am I this lucky?” I think, as
faint stars fan above the arbor.