Near Island Mine Camp, Isle Royale

Along the trail, I am caught by the underside

of leaves backlit by sun, their shadowed

translucence precise as cut-paper silhouettes:

hands of thimbleberry, sharp-lobed sugar maple,

fat fingers of birch; the green overwhelming,

tender as spring; and you would not guess,

unless you sat where I sit, wearing long johns

under your wind pants, peeling off gloves

to hold the pen, and looking straight down

on this red-stemmed, red-veined seedling,

that it is August in the north woods, snowstorms

closing in fast. And then you'd begin to see

the leaves - two or three here, a few farther down

the path - blushing like girls caught out in the cold,

or an old woman's red-rouged cheeks.

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