The sun burns a path through the morning fog
to capture the transient russets and golds along the road
that wither and waste with winter’s approach as a lone tractor creeps
across a field on a final till fore the ground is left
to settle and sleep and recover.
The old man on the tractor across the way
feels each bump and dip through his booted feet up to his hips,
he knows the clay and the sandy hill and the stubborn drain
of the muddy low. The lay of the land is choreographed
in the analytic brain of our winter warrior
who refuses to go south with the rest of his friends.
This is where I’m from, from how far I’ve come
to come back to the quiet of October russets
where the birds hover and hide in the dry rustle of the corn.
They swoop across the land in flocks
for they need their kind come winter.
For now they rest in the standing corn
as the tractor crawls across the field with a man at the wheel—
an old tractor that needs a firm hand on the wheel,
the swollen knuckles of the winter warrior.