Steve tells me you’re slipping again
as he banks the seven in the side;
this is another reason why I hate
Halloween, the way you scoop the past
out like pumpkin guts and carve
your fears on your face. Even when
we were children, Steve and I calculated
time via the transitions of your emotions:
autumn’s always shrouded in self-
pity and regrets. Wet leaves waiting
on asphalt like unexpeted accidents;
the hue of the leaves steal our eyes
from the road; I thought you were getting
better; but I am busy, always busy,
rushing away from myself before the sun
casts shadows like people’s judgments.
My father’s brother, who visits least, offers the most
advice. So stinking drunk himself,
he tells Steve that he can knock him out;
maybe twenty years ago, before gout and
the wear and tear of disillusionment.
I envy the grip of the last leaves: holding on
despite fate and time, they are the uncle
swinging at air, you topping off your glass,
the brother’s words versus the uncle’s fists,
me playing busy and away, afraid
of inheriting our father’s weak heart.
I remember all the costumes you sewed by hand:
my favorite, a nurse’s uniform I saved,
hangs, like all our mistakes, in my dusty closet.
(from her new book Falling Forward awailable at sunnyoutside press)