Issue Number 7
Ann Arbor Review
Southeastern Florida Ann Arbor Review
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THE LEAVING SEASON
(for Mom, 2008)
It is the leaving season--
So why shouldn't the rains assail us,
borne as they are in gathering clouds
above our stubbled and forgotten fields?
Why shouldn't crook-backed trees stagger
under the weight of tears pumped
into the pale blue veins of leaves?
Why shouldn't the river flood
disgorging bleached logs, clots of grass,
and the unrecognizable canker?
Why shouldn't geese assemble and grumble
as they knead the mothering marsh one last time;
or the hoary woodchuck sigh as he slips into sleep?
We are all simple tenants here
and will each leave in our own way--
perhaps, behind in what is owed.
Still, we grasp your hands against your going.
We beg you to stay.
Do not leave us in this leaving season.
(for Dad, 2008)
December is leafless--
and the ridges south of the river reveal scars.
The snow resting on their flanks is dry and airy.
It slips off bony-shouldered outcroppings
like a thin hospital gown.
We are following the rail lines south.
The rail lines follow the river.
The river follows the curve of mountains.
The mountains follow corded veins of coal.
We drive into the coming night
toward a patch of earth on a mountainside.
We are following our father home.
Lights flicker on in the coalfields.
Along the railroad track cracked coal,
as sharp as a man's dying, awaits loading.
I trace these mountains against my heart.
They are old and crook-backed,
and as knotted with sorrow as my father's hands.
I push my knuckles hard into my chest.
This night is saturated with sound--
the rasp of breathing, the faded hospital gown rising,
and then the breath falling...and falling away.
Shutta Crum, Ann Arbor
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