When the leaves are gone

When the leaves are gone
lying on the ground in a soft blanket of brown,
I’ll see more clearly.

Gray squirrels running up and down,
across the branches,
outlining the trees with motion.

The white tail signaling a deer,
its body blending with the winter wood’s
shades of brown and gray.

Widespread wings of a hawk
brushing barren branches where
they meet the sky.

Birds in all their splendid garb
fly and flitter and hop,
then pause among the branches.

I’ll see more clearly when the leaves are down,
their brief cycle of life spent out.

The limbs, majestic sculptures against
a gray November sky,
or stark black before the red sky sunset,
my piece of the earth turning from the sun
and facing the night.

Darkness comes early,
when the leaves are gone.
But small lights shine through the woods then,
and tell me I am not alone.