Listen with your grownup ears. The night
may speak to you with silence. The silence
of leaves turning. Of a spider’s patience.
Silence abiding. The moon shrugs off
its silver stole, bright paradigm to let it go—
loss, dependence, fear—to take the stars as
your guide, the cataclysmic births and deaths,
the shy-of-everlasting light, the fatal strength
to face the end. We’ve changed since we were
children. How many faces have we worn,
sliding one mask on over another?
Tonight leaves brush against each other
falling, with tongues cold and stiff play
Whisper Down the Lane. From a gutter
pluck a red oak leaf, palm it to your ear, hear
“We are the blanket of the dying earth.”
A block away an elm leaf implores, “Be thankful
you were given birth.” On a hill two streets
away, tumbled leaves quake at the foot
of a cataleptic, gaunt persimmon tree. You hope
you hear it wrongly, the sour whisper,
“Tangled worms.” How did it change so?
Costumed by your age and following your child,
a nimble shade who darts from one pool of light
into another, the neighborhood streets a ghost town
alive with trick-or-treaters, livid entities bearing
each a small, reflective fire, you wonder at
the message whispered down the lane, your story
by the end not at all the way it started, passed along
the line of players. Standing watch from a neighbor’s
driveway, you see your child with other children,
and let it go. Their faces bob into the porch light,
crowning like mushroom caps out of the darkness.
Susan Rooke is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee who lives in Austin, Texas. She has recent or forthcoming poems in San Pedro River Review, U.S.1 Worksheets, and Texas Poetry Calendar 2014, among other publications. She will soon publish her novel The Space Between, the first of a planned fantasy series.