Once the leaf falls

Your blue jacket is not the sky.
My hands are not skilled in all
things, as you once believed
long before your fingers grew
as strong as mine. Understanding
seems easy as you dismount
the bus, your backpack dangled
carelessly behind. The trees
above us do not interest you.
I document your footsteps
anyway, memorize the residue
of your childhood left behind
in the thick shadow of an oak
and its easy release of acorns
scattered into bits on the ground

as today’s wind moves your hair
aside, and not for the first time.
Suddenly your chin is strange.
My welcome falls into the breached
door of a future. Years from now
you will no longer be so pleased
to see me. Each week’s phone
call will fall upon the wry
ears of a man concerned
with different things

than those that interest me
now on this walk home beneath
turning leaves. Soon they will fall
into piles where I will pull you,
laughing as we jump into the damp
chaff of trees as though the weather
to come was not cold, not the end
of this year, not a difficult movement
into a season of harsh revelation.
You have no idea what bare branches
await, nearly broken already
from the collective descent
of autumn.

© 2006 Christine Klocek-Lim