The Fading Season
by Ken Hartke
The fading season —
when all the trees have darkened
but before the early snow —
I build a fire in the grate
and find that unfinished book.
The new morning chill
draws me to the coffee pot.
The fire still has warmth.
Today’s sky is bright and clear,
best spent walking the canyon.
A fresh breeze picks up.
Fallen leaves drift in the stream
like fishing boats
heading out to fill their nets.
They sail past the stalking heron.
The November night is
dark and calm — not yet freezing.
The Leonids pass overhead
in streaks, flashing and fading like
the season — yellow among the stars.
PHOTO: Aspen trees in autumn (New Mexico). Photo by Ken Hartke, used by permission.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Fall has faded but winter has not yet taken its first bite. The Aspens have fallen asleep and the wind carries away their leaves. The Jemez Mountains, stretching north from San Ysidro, New Mexico, are the remnants of multiple eruptions of an ancient super-volcano that collapsed into a its grassy caldera, now a gathering place for elk. The Guadalupe Canyon, and the river of the same name, wind through the southern slopes of the range. It is a quiet time and most enjoyable on foot along the canyon trails.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Hartke is a writer and photographer from the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, but was originally planted and nourished in the Midwest’s big river valleys. Always a writer, his writing was mainly work-focused until he landed in New Mexico in 2013 seeking a new second act. The state has been very welcoming. His New Mexico photography now inspires much of his writing — and sometimes the other way around. The great backcountry continually offers itself as a subject. He has contributed work for the Late Orphan Project’s anthology, These Winter Months (The Backpack Press), Silver Birch Press, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He keeps an active web presence on El Malpais.