Keeping my eye out for the first frost,
encouraging the plants that survive,
parsley, marigolds, lettuces,
I startle when the first gunshot
heralds bear season.
At the crest of leaf season,
bicycling up Seven-Mile Ridge
I find myself in a thicket of hunters
and dogs, a clan calling themselves
South Toe Bear Hunters. One steps
forward tipping his hat, another,
deep creases along the jaw line,
sports a dog chain drooping over his shoulder.
Nine sets of curious eyes peer out from the bed
of a blue pickup, Red Bone, brindled Plot Hounds,
Blue Tick, six of them siblings,
first season for them.
Dogs bay here at the crossroads
as they pioneer these woods,
I panting up the hill, fueled by
as we scatter like leaves.