“kerplunk” goes my rock.

“kerplunk” goes the frog.

a twig snaps across the pond.

i lock eyes with her:

a doe, unsure, perplexed,

until she settles on frightened.

a flash of her white tail and she’s gone,

but i still hear her huffs through

the branches and brambles

for another minute or two

as she shakes me off.

i walk on until i reach a

crabapple tree, and a hoard

of chipmunks start to scold me,

their “chips” sounding like a

chorus of gnomes’ hammers.

a bench invites me to stay.

an owl wakes and asks me about

the last time someone made me a meal,

then alights silently

and floats into the autumnal

wood, as the crickets

introduce the evening.

the birches stand bone white

in the gorge, peering through

the butter yellow beech leaves

like shipwrecked masts of

ghost ships.

a woodpecker knocks

on an ash. “there you are!”

i say, and he laughs

and bounces to the

other side. the katydids

begin to percuss. the aspen

leaves dance. the grey

squirrels conclude their rustling

and make their way back

to their nests. and when i

turn the corner

into the clearing, the

trees are aflame

and the sky is too.