A pair of red leaves spinning on one another
in such wildly erratic patterns over a frozen field
it’s hard to tell which is which and whether
if they were creatures they’d be in combat or courting
or just exalting in the tremendousness of their being.
Humans can be like that, capricious, aswirl,
not often enough in exalting, but courting, yes,
and combat; so often in combat, in rancor, in war,
we rarely even remember what error or lie
set off this phase of our seeming to have to slaughter.
Not leaves then, which after all in their season
give themselves to the hammer of winter,
become sludge, become muck, become mulch,
while we, still seething, still broiling, stay as we are,
vexation and violence, axe, atom, despair.
June 12, 2003