In the front of the house the leaves
of the Japanese maple have fallen;
you rake the last of them into the drain.
The garden is full of you; snails
leave a glistening trail like the slick
feel of your head when it crowned,
the wind separates clumped grass
into smooth strands the way I braid
your hair. Sometimes stones lie
in the yard; you throw them over the fence
and the old woman next door
thinks they rain from heaven
like ruined manna, because
her daughter clung to her nipple
and she remembers only of the sting of it.
Autumn stretches pitiless limbs.
I watch you from my room
and the tall shadow you throw on the fence.
My arms want to circle the garden
with you in it, so that when spring
comes you will still be beside the ivy.
I could sprout again, and grow ripe
while you curl in the bud of a rose,
while you tuck into a snail’s shell,