A red doorway of leaves blows open
into a room filled with mourners.
I smell each blackened leaf:
I had forgotten it was September 30th.
His voice must be trapped in the stem
of this red one I put in my pocket.
A few months ago the river was blue-brown.
My friend and I arrived
where lily pads sent white and yellow
blossoms up: floating gazebos. Minnows
tickled the backs of my knees.
The lilies have shriveled into old hands.
Brown water slides toward the city,
bearing acorns. Leaves drop off in wet arms.
I leave the river, pass the junkyard
of apples fallen by the path. River
and leaves: I go to bed.
I hear it is good to mind your dreams.
Mine often smell of soil. I put
the red leaf under my pillow for luck.
Awake. A vase: hours breathe inside.
I can’t remember my dream. September
gold flowers fade as they open.
Moon on water. Dark birds
in bright trees. Monarchs head south.
Edges shift and disappear.
originally appeared in Folio (1987-1988)