‘This Fall’ and other poems
By: J.K. Durick
After reaching its peak the trees unleaf, fill
lawns and baskets, whole afternoons given
over to clean up. The boys next door make
piles, stacked just right for jumping, the joy
of loud voices greets this world of wanwood
leafmeal as the year, its changes in season
fit nicely into their day. In a month or more
it will be snow they turn into piles and forts
snowballs and snowmen with their minds of
winter. But now it’s this, the leaves, the end
of another season turn into toys and today
fills up with it all.
I read, much of the night, pile books at the foot,
stack ‘em on the nightstand. If they could read
themselves they would, but since they can’t I do.
Whole nights full: genre, setting, characters, and
plot enough to hold me, send me off to dreams,
tome-like dreams playing with point of view and
storyline. Some scare me, some make me happy.
It’s hard to tell the stories I read from the ones
I dream, but read I must, but dream I will, want to
or not, both mixing memory and desire. Then in
the morning we drink coffee and talk for an hour,
try to clarify the two, separate them, the fictions
I have been through, piles of books and dreams.
I read much of the night and hope to go south in
the winter – south if I can book it and if they’ll
have me after all this.
I always see Death or one of her near relatives
beckoning me from the bottom of the stairs.
Twelve stairs up, twelve stairs down, down to
a cement floor and a darkness that cellars hold.
I wobble a bit carrying things up or down, feel
the drag of it, the pull of it, as if it were teasing
about outcome, falling down frontwards or back
each step leaving a ding, a dent. As a kid I did it
once, the stairs to the cellar floor – pain enough,
blood enough, knocked out for a moment, but
I was a kid and recovered. Now, all these years
later, I feel the drag, the pull, the wobble in my
step and know it’s teasing me, threatening me
ready to finish the job it started back then. When
we moved there was still a bloody handprint on
the railing, a small print of the kid I was when
I fell, my first time, down a cellar’s stairs.