November grins her best impression 
of September—warm enough to swim!— 
except her light at noon is long 
and the water pooled atop the falls 
is cold. So cold, our son says, almost two, 
and imitating you. His shirt and shoes, 
his shorts and socks are sunning 
on the rocks. Our miniature 
skinny-dipper, giddy for the rush 
of rosy feet—sting made sugary 
by trust of warmth to come. 
How can I say I wish this wouldn’t end, 
when the aching of the moment’s leaving 
gives the wish its breath? 
He slides on algaed slicks. 
He scatters tiny fish 
and water striders. 
Maybe thirty minutes pass 
or pool, what minutes do 
before slipping from the falls 
in mid-November. I scramble down 
the shale to gather up his clothes, 
stopping when I see— 
not yellowjackets— 
hoverflies—sentineled above each article, 
steady as the minnow 
that doesn’t know it’s watched. 
Ringed in black and yellow, 
the flies shiver their fly-wings 
furiously, silently, 
not trying to be anything 
but flies. Burning 
to be still. Patient 
for the absences 
we practice, fragrant 
with our moisture 
and our salt.