This October, winnowing

The day has shortened, hours are

Books between tightened bookends,

Light slants into the under-growth.

The sun places its last kiss on the roses

As insects devour their dying leaves.

And so the summer sighs into fall:

This is the autumn I have no words for.

Apple picking, meals with friends—

Distant memory. Fear gnaws at the heart.

The virus, like a sickness of the conscience

Has spread together with the war among

The righteous. Hope rattles its inflamed lungs.

Justice coughs, kindness wheezes and spits,

Faith plays double game with oath

And governance, truth has lost both legs.

*

I see us dancing in the kitchen years ago,

Salted vine leaves on the wooden board, herbs,

Mother holding house the way the breast-bone

Covers the heart from whatever could strike,

Father calling for the music, “Children, where

Is the cassette?” We were on Helen Street.

There are calls. There is silence during

The calls. There are quiet walks in the garden

After the calls. The virus roams.

The sun has shortened its working hours.

Time pushes its bookends of light closer

Together. Many will not see the winter.

*

We walk around the yew tree. Blue jays

Hide inside tight-wound branches.

The back garden is a busy landing strip.

A cardinal perches on the kitchen rails,

The chipmunk family argues in the gutters

By the stairs, crickets in widened cracks

Sing away the nights in the basement,

As I pace upstairs in the dark kitchen;

A wood-pecker knocks on the dormer:

Here is the harvest brought by these

Visiting creatures—memories squirreling

Their freedoms away:

Now I see her, never happy on her own

But glowing whenever we were with her,

I see her taking her smile from our faces.

                                       –October 2020

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