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. 

                                                        Usually

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 has new work forthcoming in Poetry East, Plume, the American Journal of Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and others. Her sixth full-length collection of poetry is The View from Saturn (LSU Press, 2014). Winner of the 2016 Paumanok Poetry Award, she lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she is poet-in-residence at Georgia College & State University.