Pagan Season

We all go down, like a ritual
of the woods, down from the hills

in blue overalls, hunting jackets,
oiled gloves to harvest the syrup;

we surprise a wild fox
licking the hard-candied veins,

scraping its teeth against
purple-bruised bark, stopped

by the startle of birds
from the overhead brush-

he learns of encroachment.

The sun's red spear catches
his fur like fiery rust, each

strand bristling flame, his eyes
a stranger to light, large,

disproportionate- a pagan
whose senses deceive him.

Many harvests, cold mornings
pulling tins from the trees,

brown sweet-smell of maple,
thick smeared tar on our skins,

we would always remember
that remarkable season.

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