back ~ home ~ up ~ next





Reading the Lees


To build these piles, not difficult at all

If damp and chance and practice will conspire,

I set the claw-foot tines down in the fall—

That time my town forbids the use of fire—

And drag, as if a bird scratching for feed,

Then with a virtuoso's flippant skill

Born out of nothing half so dull as need,

Process to hustle leaves onto a hill.

It grows by dint of half-a-forearm's twist.

The rustling oaks and wads of maples thick

As bank notes mount and mount, it's in the wrist—

The heavy, expert use of it to flick

These butcher-paper-brown and yellow packs

Up high and higher, higher still, until

They start to look like hay in Monet stacks

The farm hands build in Frost.  So, with a will

And arm, those leaves are tossed that long have lain

In sodden strata, mulch re-thatched in heaps.

The tannic acids that have left their stain

On paving stones take hold in sun that steeps

Them in their rotting molds and potpourris

Of Indian summer.  Now I long to smoke

And smell this autumn's simmering of teas

So richer than the summer's, one might choke.

But these are other times and other falls

The winds have driven down.  I mind the law

The way I mind the lawn, as labor calls

Me from my past and from that sense of awe

Once everyone would own to:  smells so strong

And sweet and pungent they'd intoxicate

With incense in ascent in braids of long

Grey steam.  But that was then; it is too late

By half by now to sacrifice the leaves

To late November gods who are not there.

I think of tall brown penny rolls of sheaves,

Then drink the last lost brew that scents the air.


Len Krisak



© 2001; originally printed in The Comstock Review.
Reprinted by permission of the author.

Page background by

Outer table background by
Ambo Graphics

back ~ home ~ up ~ next