Mark DeCarteret

Late Autumn Love

I hadn’t heard any doors
or at least none that I can remember.
Maybe she’d left through the window screen--
where the moths had been executed for their sins,
sifted out into the creases of sky,
or had winded out through a key hole
rescinding the past with each wingbeat.
A notepad headed by Sullivan’s Stump Removal--
the indented particulars of my failures
more evident than if the pen hadn’t run out of ink.
Now I must leave these endangered equations
on everything that I touch.

Crabapples grimace in the trees.
Leaves seize up and crackle with light.
Under a grandmother’s afghan
we’d pressed on the darkness our innocent shine.
O the unbearable charity of her chest.
My head some prized produce in her clutch,
a heart swell that warranted documentation.
Please don’t look at my eyes or look at
what I look at when I look at you, I tried saying.
If only this mouth could somehow motivate my mind
before the ghosts arrived wrapped in wax paper,
the fairy tales born twisted up in their own moral.

The wind held its breath
for what had seemed days.
This blue of approval, self-justification.
Until something shadowy lent me its shoulder,
its slightest of shrugs a resounding assent--
all the world’s defects and disfigurements
solely scanned by my fingertips.
Now I encourage the sun to go down on me.
Beg the night to stay for the day.
Then wait for this shaking to stop--
that place where one’s staying would
always be measured by another’s leaving.