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"The Moon of Falling Leaves"

Now is the time of the Moon of Falling Leaves.
The deer have run to the valley, outracing the snow.
There, in the shelter of the river bank, they know
they will find moss under willow and lichen on stone
while winter walks wild on the mountain.
Here on my bed of grasses and skins I lie,
old hands reaching out to the fire.It glows like sundown
through fingers worn thin by the years;
bones like branches of trees blown clean by the wind.
The owl is calling his brother across the valley;
the wolf cries out to echoes that always answer.
When spring climbs the mountain the deer herd 
will scatter the ashes of the fire that warmed me
under the Moon of Falling Leaves.
And down in the valley the women will work in silence
when I doze in the sun outside the flap of my doorway.
This is the fate of the tribe's most powerful hunter
when his eyes have seen more moons
than those of his brothers. - - an old brave
asleep in the blanket that warms him at midday,
lost in dreams of the hunt, the kill and the campfire - -
but now is the time of the Moon of Falling Leaves.

Nell S. Jenkins
October 1991

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