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Larry Kimmel - Collected Poems Online



   October Elegy

    After the burial she walked with me,
    Where tall trees, standing in a clear
    Sunlight, cast strict shadows across
    The drive—a woman just past fifty,
    Elegant and gracious, lovely to see.
    "You came all the way from Maine, they say.
    You must have been very fond of Kurt,"
    Meaning her brother, my uncle by marriage,
                            and that was true.
    A far hill seemed the reds and golds
    Of an old tapestry kicked against
    The horizon, while the branches near
    At hand were clad in tatters, and one
    Old oak in rags of penny-brown.
    "You were just a boy when I left home."
    That, too, was true, and true still,
    The infatuation a boy once felt
    For her—though now as mellow as
    A bronze medallion smoothed by the wear
                            of a quarter century.
    She took my arm, her white-gloved hand
    Around my sleeve, and we walked awhile
    In silence. Her step was steady, stately,
    Despite the cant of her narrow heels
    On the cinder drive. And leaving the drive
    We crossed a quilt of yellow leaves,
    Dimly reflected in the branches
    Overhead, and I was made
    Momentarily giddy by
                              the lightness of its color.
    And as we joined the others, she let
    Go of my arm, saying, "I must
    See Joan before I leave," meaning
    My aunt, her sister-in-law, and smiling
    A smile of October charm she left me.
    All that was eighteen years ago,
    And now I am her age then, and now
    I do not think that I shall ever
    See her again, and that, I allow,
    Is as it should be, now as the reds
    And golds of old tapestry
    Return, once more, to distant hills—
                            the same but not the same.

Copyright © 2005 by Larry Kimmel