L  Is for Leaves

Not to worry. Each morning 

after you kiss my cheek 

and lock the door behind you, 

leaving me alone with my body 

and this house to walk it around in, 

I’ve plenty to do. Monitoring

the meat defrosting on the counter, 

checking the refrigerator light’s

on and off, and periodically

resuming my post by the window 

to count the leaves, it being August

and there are so many. 

                                            I imagine

you’ve not noticed, rattling 

your car keys, eager to get going, 

but there they are in their summer

uniforms—cheek to cheek like well-

behaved children at choir camp

and all looking in at me looking out 

at them. 

                 Often I think they look 

to spirit me away, chattering

among themselves the way they do,

at times getting quite agitated 

as if they have something of import 

to tell. Of course you’ d say it’s only

the breeze, and you’re probably right— 

you always are—so it’s better I not 

admit how I drop whatever I’m doing 

to position myself by the window 

and tap on the glass, signaling back 

to show I’m paying attention. 


it’s sunny and they’re only swinging 

in blue air, yet they do want me to watch 

the way the children did when we’ d

take them to the park in the old days.


But when the clouds unlock, roaring in, 

dark and furious, and the tossing

gets vindictive—the hail needling down 

cold as ridicule, their little faces slapped

into a panic, twisted on their necks,

and the battering starts—I’m nose pressed,

hands splayed against the glass, not knowing

which of us is screaming, Hold on, hold on.


Alice Friman’s eighth collection of poems, On the Overnight Train, is forthcoming from LSU Press in 2024. Also out from LSU are Blood Weather (2019), The View from Saturn (2014), and Vinculum (2011), for which she won the Georgia Author of the Year award in poetry. A recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and included in Best American Poetry, she has been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Plume, The Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Poetry East, and others.