Pretty Colors

I live in the part of the world where people talk about “leaf peeping.” Although it shares a similar word with a much more sinister kind of stopping to look at things, it is a harmless occupation of driving into the country to see the brilliant fall foliage. (Turns out foliage has one “l”. Who knew? Not this Clause.)

As I have been stricken by my annual October cold, there has been no driving into the country. The ho-hum view of my neighbor’s house is suddenly more interesting because of the bright red tree just behind it.

Nothing much to report. No marathons. No literary successes. A few ideas that need to be developed that will be as soon as my brain is functioning again. No need to notice that these are the same ideas that percolated all summer without being realized.

During my time in Southern City I picked up the last two Claudia Emerson books. I’m too sad to read them just now. Emerson was one of the first poets I came to on my own and loved. One of my friends studied with her in college and loved her. Another beloved reader of this blog was her mentee (is that right?) and also loved her in person and in print. She wrote about a south I recognized. She wrote in form, she wrote free. Last year she died of a brain tumor.

This is from Late Wife:


For three years you lived in your house

just as it was before she died: your wedding

portrait on the mantel, her clothes hanging

in the closet, her hair still in her brush.

You have told me you gave it all away.

then, sold the house, keeping the confirmation

cross she wore, her name in cursive chased

on the gold underside, your ring in the same

box, those photographs you still avoid,

and the quilt you spread on your borrowed bed—

small things. Months after we met, you told me she had

made it, after we had slept already beneath its loft

and thinning, raveled pattern, as though beneath

her shadow, moving with us, that dark, that soft.

Sorry for the dumb spacing, WordPress is anti-poem. But this poem has everything you need to know about line breaks, concision, and paring a poem down into a sonnet.

Whom do you love?


7 responses to “Pretty Colors

  1. Turns out that “verbiage” has an “i” in it too. I think I knew that before most of my cohort, but it was a surprise to me. (Much like “restaurant” has a “u” in it. Who knew?)

  2. I remember being surprised about the first “r” in “prerogative.”

    As for “leaf peeping,” just the other day my daughter and I had this conversation:

    Her: Do those colored leaves really exist?
    Me: What do you mean?
    Her: You know, the red and orange and yellow leaves that fall to the ground.
    Me: You mean fall colors? The leaves changing?
    Her: Yes.
    Me: Yes!
    Her: How come I’ve never seen them?
    Me: Because you live in California, and we don’t have lots of deciduous trees.
    Her (with frustration): But we’ve driven all over the country, and I still haven’t seen them!
    Me: That’s because we don’t travel in fall.
    Her (dejected): Oh.

    My poor children have never leaf peeped.

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