Autumn Rut


She wore an orange coat when the leaves began to fall,
though it seemed still the end of summer, standing
with her toes in the grass.

Above us, in the mid-September mountains, elk came
down off the tundra to rut among yellowing aspen
turning in sync.

On the moraine bridge, her feet flaked grass against the wood,
not minding the scrape of dry grain as we watched leaves
floating in the stream.

Grasses make golden beds for bugling bulls under night
skies clear with cold, where Orion chases the Seven Sisters
forever, never gaining.

In the field dry with thistle, she sat and spread, inviting,
surrounded by faraway sounds of the turning as grasses
bent under her coat.

After, I wondered if any elk tilt their racks to see the stars;
among the clusters, I would see her coat against the brown,
on fire.