goldenrod

A stag prances through the gray goldenrod and into the dim, dripping woods with his six bright spears held high—a parade of one.

Where the sun shines through elms and birches, almost half the leaves are already yellow. In the meadow, the goldenrod is at its height.

The wind from a distant storm sends yellowed walnut leaves spinning to the ground. In the meadow, the first goldenrod blossoms are opening.

Bright sun, and meltwater drips from the roof despite the cold. I think about microclimates—pits in the snow around dark goldenrod stalks.

A field sparrow forages in the seed heads of goldenrod inches from the porch, eye a black stone set in a white ring, keeping me in sight.

Another cold morning: just one bee for all this goldenrod. The neighbors’ rooster like some teenage band member practicing for a pep rally.

Just as the early goldenrod fades, the late begins to bloom. At the wood’s edge, the tulip poplar is having a conversation with itself.

In the shadows of the trees, the grass bent low by dew. From the sunlit meadow, the drone of cold-hardy bumblebees servicing the goldenrod.

A faint dust of frost on the old goldenrod stalks along the creek. A crow chases a crow, yells breaking in the middle like a boy at puberty.

Under a bowed head of goldenrod, a black and yellow garden spider hangs head-down, her web glittering with drops from last night’s rain.

A squirrel on the lowest branch of the walnut tree next to the road scolds something hidden in the goldenrod, shaking with each harsh cry.

Mid-morning. The sun slowly fades behind thickening clouds. Chickadees and titmice flit among the dried goldenrod heads, arguing loudly.