You enter autumn woods
following footprints
left by those who own them

perfect hearts pressed
into darkness moving uptrail
telling of bucks and does

trailing fawns and yearlings
messaging me as surely as
ruts recall hoof and wheel

between Westport and Oregon
prairies rutted across Kansas
along the Santa Fe the same

switch grass bedded down
by man and beast telling night dreams
their dry leaves rustling

whispered secrets you strain
to decipher only a sojourner
as you watch birds settle

into the skeleton of red
cedars bare after the Palm Sunday
fires breasts blazing sunset hues

from westering rays sinking
even as you seem to crest the ridge
silent murmurations falling

into yet green sibilings
serendipitous caprices left standing
even as the flaming wall past over

rooted to ground you strain to hear
twilight chitterings but you have
entered into the very sound

of stillness itself until like the cry
of a child in a smoky cathedral
rolling across backlit fields

lowing cattle and whinnying horses
cattle gates clanging jarring loose
blown purple asters’ blond furze

rays sifting like pumpkin snow
onto the hearts
the toe of my boot.