October Sestina

My year turns over in the fall
When the maple, fierce red heart,
Pulses fire in sprawling lines
Of redded gold.  Each leaf
A separate painting, its own story,
Detaches, rides the wind to the ground.

We sit in a circle on the ground
Feeding the fire as shadows fall,
Toast marshmallows, tell ghost stories – 
The Horseman, the Raven, the Telltale Heart
Written in the crackling of the leaves. 
Red embers in ash sketch runic lines.

Geese on gray sky waver into line,
Rabbits and badgers going to ground.
All things bright and fragile take leave,
Only the hard, the strong, the fell,
Dig in, settle down, stretch roots to the heart
Of the earth, to the riches stored.

In the last pages of the story,
The trivial falls away, the line
Of action runs clear.  The heart
Of fire in the west lights up the ground,
Every blade clear and golden, as it fell
From the anvil, every vein in the leaf.

Before the light goes, I will take my leave
Walking into the sky.  The ancient stories
Promise that glory comes before the fall.
I'll backtrack the geese, follow the twisting line
The rabbit's footprints make across the ground,
Into the winter's heart.

The sigh that stills the heart,
That empties flesh, like a curling leaf
Fading, crumbling into fallow ground,
Bears a vibrant word, reweaves the story
In smoldering scarlet curls and golden lines,
Unfolding in the winds while cities fall.

Learn this by heart, six times the story tell:
In every leaf, the web of lines reveals
Our struggle from the ground, our glorious fall.
Liz Huck