You’d think
with fall protracted and the extra weeks
of Indian summer you would be finished,
but it’s like the last cricket
singing in her shirt sleeves:
putting the garden to bed doesn’t happen
until there’s no sun left.

Rake up the dead leaves, canes, and black debris,
haul it out to the compost bin the way
Bolivian farmers taught you,
shovel horse manure on the bed,
put down the hay.
What the hell, dig the last bulbs in;
you never know,
they might come up come spring.
Feed the rhododendrons, the bleeding hearts
and acid-lovers, trim the stalks back,
pack the straw in high against the freeze.

What’s that racket? Crows?
Remember them mating on the oak branch
in the summer? What a hue and cry they made
in the heat: Haw haw haw,
really going at it, black wings
flapping, Haw haw
haw haw haw!

Pull the fence off the flower garden
but leave the last bits of color in,
pack the hay around them.
Wind the hose up, rattle the ice out,
coil it up on the top shelf in the shed,
and pull the flaps down over your ears.
The wind’s picked up,
the sun’s gone,
you’re in your shirt sleeves, nowhere near half done.