the sun is lighting the tops of the trees,
fall’s color like torches held in the canopy.
the shadows below are grey and damp.
it’s a hardscrabble woods,
the trees thinned by floods and high winds,
the edge effect intensified by the careless
browsing of jersey cows.
she steps out of the frayed cover of the woods
into the meadow’s tattered grasses,
waiting for the sun to sink just a little bit lower,
for the shadows to fill in around her.
leaning for a minute with her back to a broad,
scarred sycamore tree, she rests a shovel against
her chest. her breath is ragged, her hands are shaking.
the report of a hunter’s rifle startles her.
she steps forward, sidles along the edge of the woods,
holds her breath and walks quickly across the meadow.
the shovel she leaves leaning against the sycamore.
her hands are empty. she stuffs them into her pockets,
finds a handkerchief there. like a white flag of surrender,
she wipes her face with it, begins to give up.