First red leaves of autumn
I walk past and consider him
behind the cinematic panes of glass
although he has no consideration of me,
so perfectly consumed is he in his job:
hand to towel to table to table,
hands to doormats to shoulder to handrail;
his life a menu of decisions
made years ago.
Ralph’s Pretty Good Café—after hours
A police car screams down
Center Street on my walk into town.
I recognize the driver
but this time I will not wave
or nod in passing—
each of us a blur to the other.
In the village every siren a name
I will learn later this afternoon at the bookstore
or in front of the new fabric shop:
a child in my daughter’s homeroom class;
the old woman in the red house
with the hanging gardenias;
the man who always pulled
his tractor over to let you pass.
Emergency response, 2:15 PM
Winter is coming
and I fear the garden
has gone off her meds:
her hair is in tangled knots;
her clothes are caked in mud.
She grabs at me along the footpath,
begging me to deadhead just one stem.
And so I snap and toss and move on—
eyes fixed ahead—
pocket change pruning to get me
from the car to the door.
If you want to get close enough
to touch their metal hides
leave your car and take the shortcut
to the post office
and wait there for the buffalo to stampede
in single file over creosote and pitch,
where polished steel rails
leave them blind and indifferent
to your trembling frame.
CSX freight through Chatham Yard
Somewhere there is a dead skunk.
Close enough (and far enough)
to find the hidden sweetness wafting
within the aromatic soul
of unexpected death.
Warm winds in October
The clock tower moon
is full this hour,
faithfully hovering just over
the village skyline,
a honeyed lamp
by which to harvest
in the secret of night
this late longing of mine
to come forever home.
Out on Main Street after a movie