Fall was beginning. The leaves were stuck
Between changing colors and falling into scattered clumps
That paunchy fathers spent Saturday mornings
Pulling into piles with plastic-pronged forks,
But everything still already had that early newness
Promised by decay. Mothers were telling children,
“The trees have to be cold with us for a little
While, but before you know it
We’ll all be warmer again.”
But that October was particularly dreary.
The clouds slid through the sky
Like lazy gondolas weighted down by unfurling ropes,
And the air between them was swifter than
The lizards we used to find in our grandmothers’ mailboxes
On muggy summer evenings when the sun still sparkled.
Those evenings seemed far away, then,
As you and I would sit in our living room
Waiting for it to get dark,
So we could look at our reflections cast into the gridlocked window panes
From the shaded lamps that cooed softly in the corner.
We looked at the window hoping
Somewhere out of the dawning chill, it would come to us.
We hardly knew one another or what we expected,
Yet there we were, wrapped in blankets, ourselves alone,
Watching our own abyss staring back.
Finally, something came!
Two days before the Ides [You remember reading Julius Caesar in school]
Brought the storm we’d been aching for
And, though we still ached [never stopping],
That third or fourth daggered slit of lightning
Lashed, and its companion sound sent us practically screaming.
The power was out for two days all over town.
School was even cancelled. Yet, that next day,
When the piled leaves had exploded across the yards
Like a troupe of dancers leaping across a stage, you built us a fire
From the pile of logs lying under a tarp in the garage.
Then we realized what we thought we wanted
Was far different than what thrilled us in the end
As the heat of the flames drove the thunder from our thoughts
And ignited our veins.
Now you, my friend, remember the fire, yes?
This woman, for me.