Some days, when the wind picks up and
sends a flock of yellow leaves skittering
around my feet, I get tunnel-vision and
see only those leaves, the glowing white
bands of a crosswalk of which I was guardian,
that black, nameless road and the leaves.
In my memory, there is nothing else.
I peel back the layers, a canopy of
grey skies and green, smells of sap and
pine needles, dampness. moon shadow.
One autumn afternoon, embedded in a sea of
rubber-band bows and paperclip arrows,
I stood as judge before a chain link fence,
goading the cars into driving through puddles,
listening to the low rumbles of I-5 and the
asphalt, and the faint sounds of someone
in the trailer on school grounds, singing.
I imagine the way my toes ground down, my
blade of a frown as I held myself so carefully
aloof. A corn-daughter transplanted, the rain
did not lay claim to me (the way it does now);
it didn't take words to say, “This is not my
Then the day disappears, the image falters,
fades into these yellow leaves scattering
around my feet, then and now, grey geese
flying east; I wonder if this is why I was
called back, because of the imprint of ivy
on my heart and the breath of the northwest
turning to mist in my lungs.