by Anthony Abbott
The trees undress slowly from the top.
Bare arms arc brownly into the sky. It is
sunset. Orange skirts swirl in an awful
dying light. The ground is littered gold.
I stop the scene with the shutter of my eye—
stop and hold and mark—this blue, these reds
and holding greens—those rusts upon the ground.
I stoop and pick and hold this one dry leaf.
It crumbles in my hand, and I see a picture
from the morning paper speak as if alive.
Five Turkish children killed by earthquake
lie upon the ground, seemingly asleep.
The mother screams above, mouth horror ravaged,
while in Kentucky and Ohio other mothers weep
into clean white handkerchiefs as taps are played
and flags are placed into their hollow laps.
Hats do not suffice. The time is never right.
Beauty is always almost gone. This dress, this
cock of the head, this touch, this curl of hair,
this graying beard, that look over the shoulder.
We are taken so suddenly, the breath goes
in white astonishment. If I had known is not
enough. Say it now. Say it now. Say it now.
Before the shutter clicks once more and closes.