Leaf Raker

She gathers up what nature's left for us

because our houses touch on hers.

Thin as a broom, she sweeps whatever falls

almost as well as the wind, intent on giving shape

to what is left of autumn. Every year

it works. When winter wakes us to surprise

and weathers in our street, she shovels off

the snow covering up those tracks that lead

to us. We call her the quixotress of trees,

mistress of drifts, as if we could shrug off

the way she puts the neighborhood to rights.

Without our leave, she works against the clock

to shape a street that otherwise would fail

to find itself beneath the swarm of falls.

Spring and summer both, she sprinkles seed to meet

the rain. She plugs the ground around our trees

with fertilizers, waits for russet and gold to happen

to maple, oak, and elm, then she gathers up

her autumn tools and sets to work. While she rakes

she praises the sky for seasons, us for being here.

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