Roused from sleep by buffeting winds,
I shuffle in darkness to gaze out at Orion,
locked in pursuit, ascendant now,
on the eve of the Hunter’s Moon,
as Diablo winds gust
from parched land, scattering
with summer’s last scorching gasp,
threatening fire before succumbing to winter’s bludgeon.
Already my dream—an old woman
outside my door, sweeping dead leaves
and laughing—skitters away, elusive as an autumn hare,
or the wind’s almost-intelligible clamor.
Can the hunter see the seasons shifting
in unfamiliar ways?
Will he quit the game?
The news today proclaimed
three billion birds vanished from the skies—
sparrows, blackbirds, warblers, and more—
since I was a young man, a span
laughably short, set against the migrations
of Betelgeuse and Rigel.
Despite stark witness, we remain
steadfast in past imaginings’
starry-eyed abandon, deaf and dumb
to all discourse that might call
those passerine spirits back.
The streetlamp casts long shadows
of writhing branches on the wall,
transmuted by despair into supplicants,
beseeching forbearance from
the fire sure to come.