Every autumn, as the bright lamps
extinguish along the roadside, leaves
strewn, blowing, brilliant,
I imagine I will collect the very best
of the maples, the sycamores, the
fire of New England and put them
in a box for her
and I will save her.
In her parents’ house, she waits
within a darkened room
that she will never leave,
every delicate nerve burnt
by the razor howl of Lyme spirochetes
that turn sunlight her enemy.
I imagine her opening the wet leaves,
pushing her face into the past
and walking, again, with me
in damp forest,
the breath of decay
sweet and lingering. I imagine her
shuffling, scattering the leaves
as though walking through
How she lives again.
But every autumn, I watch, too late,
for the right moment to collect
what I can for her, until the
November wind takes the gifts
from my hands, returning
only what is brown and lost.