Art by: Sakai Hōitsu (Japanese, 1761–1828)
"The Persimmon Tree"
Time’s rhythms never forsook me, but space, space
slashed and left me nameless in the gray sands
of apartment buildings. It is fall. The yellow and
blood-red leaves smudged, smeared, igniting my dark
shoe, clinging, like Russian birch autumns, like memory,
to the undercurrent of me. And the chill winds, ushering-in
the caskets of backyard jars, the leaf-rustle of sharpening
pencils, sweatshirts and counting the clock. Or is it the scent
of trash fires in Tula, or the unexpected light-brown tinge
in the sunsets of England - or the radiance calling me home
in Russia, where, under kitchen light bulbs, shielded from
the changing sky, my father ignited my first
alcohol burner. No. It is the fall when both
my first love and grandfather passed in the Maryland
That is fall. Fall may mean
the gentle machinery of kompot, mixing spurts of
strawberry and apricot, always there and lifted
from the dust of a broken cellar-or the fire of chili, cocoa and
cider drunk in fields sprawling from Wisconsin
to South Carolina. Fall carries itself in fragments, the cold, the
school, the leaves, the loss. It is never the same,
but something has changed.
My friend in Ghana wrote about autumn
across seas. There, the seasons revolve,
not around cold temperature, but the rain season,
regenerating the plant life. And October is,
not the reds and yellows
of death, but green. Green.
I cross the green Pharmacia in the Bronx.
This fall I am in New York. It is late October, 2017.
And after strange attacks of humidity, it is now
cool, growing cold and the leaves, the yellowing leaves,
when they do rise from the vast sands
of gray cement - they are a toast of champagne.