Autumn Rain in Richmond

Propelled by last night’s heavy rains,

the leaves pirouette to the ground,

blanketing the brown sere grass

in a quilt of many colors,

clogging the downspouts,

filling in the tunnels

the moles had dug out in the spring.

 

A hard winter lies ahead,

the farmer’s almanach says.

He can hear the staccato bursts

of hickory nuts hitting the roof.

Already the first frost warning

has sent him scurrying

to move the potted plants indoors.

 

And now the leaves.

Their sheer quantity is overwhelming.

He could shovel them in his sleep

and still never be finished.

He starts by gathering them

in meticulous mounds

and shoving them into

black plastic bags

tied with red ribbons

like bundles of Christmas gifts.

Next he dispenses with the bags

and rakes them onto

a tattered blue tarp

which he hauls away

like Amundsen dragging his sledge

across the frozen waste.

Finally, exhausted,

he aims the blower

and sends them sailing away

into the woods,

hoping against hope

the wind won’t turn on him

and send them back again.

 

Tidying up the yard, he thinks,

is a little like tidying up your life.

Things never stay put.

They’re always spilling over.

 

(Originally published in Cyclamens and Swords)

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