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Winds of Autumn
by D. Nordling

Each afternoon I walk to my father’s office after school.
The scantily decorated oak trees pushing up the sidewalk,
pass the stone sheriff station, the phone company drop box,
the hair salon where my mom goes on Wednesday.
The utility plant emits the mechanical rhythm of the turbine whirring.
The town’s old air-whistle from the coal-mining days still signals 5pm.

It is jacket weather, not just on the shoulders, but zipped to the chest.
The winds always blow a little harder as I cross the train tracks.
I often pause for a second to look into the curve of infinity
knowing the coming train is an hour away from here.

The rails cut the town in two, twice a day without slowing,
once with passenger cars in the day just before supper,
once in the dead of night with coal cars to the powerplant in the far south.
This is the time of year when skies are grey more times than they are blue.

Leaves mix into the sand pile at the lumber yard.
Sand grating into December roads when winter ice comes.
Autumn chill reminds me of warm meals at the amber hour of dusk.
So soon the day passes, so quick the harvest is complete.

Outside town, fields are bare again in tilled, brown clods and loose straw.
Another masquerade celebration will soon mark the annual pagan calendar.
The cooling wind and darker days remind me to walk briskly
and to get inside before the coyote calls.


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