outdoors in the fall
errant early leaves
abandon hope
coffee cools too soon
	sweatshirts and long pants
against the chill
perhaps gloves
to turn pages before
collecting leaves
in the war between 
the book and leaves
the book wins
until the window opens
and leaves get help
then the book rests
	next to the coffee
sitting quietly
wind ruffles the pages
	as if by unseen hands
anxious to get on with the story
while gloveless hands
grip the rake
	with little enthusiasm
but sweating nevertheless
	as the warming sun
off comes the sweatshirt 
        tee shirt soaked
leaves gathered corralled 
piles tempting the wind
the books waits
       to continue

green leaves of many hues
mint, chartreuse, olive, fern, forest
clinging tightly to life
when the season changed
     all at once
and the air grew colder
the wind stronger
from the north hinting at winter’s icy fingers
life draining from the leaves
changing them to reds and golds
     drying them
until they no longer had a firm grip on their branches and twigs
so letting go
one by one
twirling to the ground
scattering across the yard
piling against the fence

next year, next year

you said forever
as you slid into the hollowed out cedar log
with a whittled plug at one end
connecting to a wooden aqueduct
that came from the hot springs

love you forever you said
as our clothes came off
and you lit a candle
just before we got into the tub

I will love you forever you said
as the hot springs water worked its magic
the candle burned down
and finally out

we got dressed in moonlight 
making our way
up the trail to the parking lot
holding hands in silence

we drove back to Portland
bathed in feelings
just being close being near
we got to your apartment you invited me in

for a week we spent every minute together
walking in the park beers at Reuben’s 
or the Goose
just looking at each other

we talked for hours
until there weren’t any more stories
we made love we walked we held hands
I thought we could live together

I called you early on Monday
no answer
I called at noon no answer
I came over and knocked

you were gone with no warning
no notes no calls
no goodbye
but you said forever
at midnight in the cedar tubs

up the creaky stairs
passing the bedroom floor
to the third landing 
the stairs ending
at a small dark door 
opening to the attic
long locked 
not often visited

turning the knob twisting slowly
afraid the key would break 
in the lock
tumblers line up  
door hinges screech
the smell of old dust 
fills the doorway
like Linus’ blanket
carrying around motes 
of ancient civilizations

dim light
from a streaked window
highlighted sheets covering shapes
crowding the room
walking nearly impossible
without bumping into contents
disturbing the silence
nearly falling
on a large rectangle

partially lifting the corner of the draping
immediately seeing
Wilshire park bikes on their sides
sack lunches
baseballs gloves bats
kids from three neighborhoods
playing ball all day
I dropped the drape
thinking to come back here

in the middle of the room
I lifted another cover
and saw my father in his coffin
my eyes filled with tears
and chest got very tight
quickly backing away
I came again to the door
backing out re-locking the door
back down the stairs
a few tears rolling out

I woke up
at the kitchen table
face down on my crossed arms 
damp face
damp sleeve
coffee gone cold 
in my cup

     an illusion of the mind
     filling in the blanks
making the world appear continuous
so we don’t fall into spaces
between atoms

the illusion applies to hearing too
my mind will fill in words
     making up sentences
     adding my meaning
so your dialogue
appears to make sense to me

I see your lips moving
     wait don’t produce a sound
let my mind
     fill in the words
I want you to say 
I want to hear

time the destroyer
wears away
the membrane of life
     like a river
     over rocks
	to minute to measure
        to see to know
until one day
     the envelop
holding life dear
	inside the walls
is breached
by the soldiers of age

grinding away
an unseen force
     a quiet attack
     until the damage
     becomes reality
in the daylight
where all is seen

all is time
the destroyer
unseen and relentless