®

Today's poems are by Rhina P. Espaillat

Man Raking Leaves


A man is raking leaves. It is October,
still warm this windless afternoon, a good day
for his laborious shuffle through blown russet,
amber and brown gold, between lawn and gutter.

He feels November coming, knows the lyrics
of that dark song it sings in eaves and chimney,
the way it has of stripping his last maple
down to the thinnest shadow. But for now,

the man is raking only those leaves
earliest to fall, in the light shade of others
still there where summer pinned them. He is reading
another message in their easy drifting,

answering with a gesture of his shoulders
pulled back to ease the spine, no longer limber
but willing to bend here in a light like honey
pouring around his body, stroking his body,

the rake, the leaves, the tree that drops them,
the grass they lie on. And he thinks, How simple,
again, again, to make this motion,
to know what October means, to be glad and tired.


Weighing In


What the scale tells you is how much the earth
has missed you, body, how it wants you back
again after you leave it to go forth

into the light. Do you remember how
earth hardly noticed you then? Others would rock
you in their arms, warm in the flow

that fed you, coaxed you upright. Then earth began
to claim you with spots and fevers, began to lick
at you with a bruised knee, a bloody shin,

and finally to stroke you, body, drumming
intimate coded messages through music
you danced to unawares, there in your dreaming

and your poems and your obedient blood.
Body, how useful you became, how lucky,
heavy with news and breakage, rich, and sad,

sometimes, imagining that greedy zero
you must have been, that promising empty sack
of possibilities, never-to-come tomorrow.

But look at you now, body, soft old shoe
that love wears when it's stirring, look down, look
how earth wants what you weigh, needs what you know.



Copyright © 2002 Rhina P. Espaillat All rights reserved
from Where Horizons Go
Truman State University Press

Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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