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Gray Ghosts of Autumn

George D. Stout

September whispers soft and low with gentle winds that ebb and flow

Among the maples, ash and oaks adorned with multi-colored cloaks

As oak trees drop their rusts and reds upon the fresh autumnal beds

Of littered past-lifeís shards and shreds, the gray ghosts dance in archerís heads

For as September wanes to fall, October speaks of northern squall

The cooling clouds and shortening days, bring morning fog and evening haze

This time of year the woods are still with morning frosts on leafless hill

The only sounds from shuffling paws that dig in leaves in search of haws

Or acorns, beech and hickory sheds to carry back to brown leaf beds

The archer loads his back barond of cedar shafts with feather frond

His longbow braced and drawn to bring a thumb to ear and cheek to string

His arrows cut to cloth-yard length to feel the surge of springing strength

From taut drawn limbs of elm and yew so deftly crafted to pursue

The fleeting tails and whiskered face that dodge and dart at frantic pace

For as the archer tops the hill he knows there is no greater thrill

Than pure fair chase in greenwood dale of cutting-teeth and bushy tail

The shadows darting to and fro from natureís circus high wire show

Will stir the soul of all who dare pursue the gray ghosts near their lair

Of hickory hollows, hills and dales where ultimate adventure dwells

Oh can there be a fairer game to put an archerís skill to shame

To dodge and duck and seem to laugh at lack of aim on our behalf

For as the shaft seems sure to bring as fingers join the cheek to string

A furry quarry to his low amidst the littered sticks below

Yet once again they fail to meet as oak bark talks of scurried feet

And still the archer dares to dream of laden oaks of field and stream

Of cool fall days in northern tier to sally forth with little fear

Of filling larder to the top with overflow of squirrelly crop

On still he goes with back barond of cedar shafts with feather frond

For him the great success you see, is not to get, but just to be

Amidst the oak and the hickory tree