Land Park Fall – Featured Poem for November, 2020

We lived part-time in Sacramento over the past 18 months. Their trees are large, beautiful, and numerous. They reminded me of Massachusetts, at least part of the time. When the orange tree ripened, I was quite sure I was not in New England. Sacramento just outlawed leaf blowers. I approve. This poem is from the manuscript for my second book which is in process with a possible publisher.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Remember how Native Americans are a part of our past, present and future. Most recently, Native votes helped flip Arizona. We give thanks.

Land Park Fall

Leaf blowers are harsh in crisp morning air.
I prefer rhythmic raking with bamboo
in the timeless connection to peasants
in the illuminated Book of Hours
or kinship with Zen monks raking rocks
and meditating on mono no aware.

In the suburb of neat, small houses
sheltering under glorious Sacramento trees,
the leaf blowers fling the leaves back up again.
Swirled by the small cyclones,
showers of golden ginkgo, sycamore, ash,
settle down in restless mounds.

When I was young in New England,
our piles grew huge and fragrant.
We buried each other and hid deep inside.
Leaf fights presaged snowballs.
With a thrill of danger,
we leapt through twilight bonfires.

Leaf sparks rose and eddied toward the moon.
My hair smelling of autumn,
and dressed for bed, I gazed out
into still glowing embers.
Lying in the heat and ashes
were potatoes for our smoky breakfast.

Sixty years later, piles are taken up by city trucks.
Skritch-scratching the fading green turf,
I contemplate the slower transformation
of red maples becoming compost
as I pause to pull impaled scarlet leaves
off bamboo tines.

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