In the walnut branches the birds of September begin to gather.
Late August. Empty chairs. My mind’s dinner guests.
The woman who bought the house next door pulled up the ivy
on the property line, and with it tore the bird-hollow branches
of the butterfly bush from their roots. And with that
the flying leaves of fall whose nature is not to fall will not
find my front yard. They who could bear thoughts of enormous weight
over great distances. Now I must take this thought
far up in the sky, where this poem will cast the shape
of it, its shadow only, on your mind’s green ground.
I am exhausted, ready to drop it all, when I see
I am carrying nothing. Down below you have found
a perfect place to plant a butterfly bush. It’s late August.
On the back patio the empty chairs await the arriving guests.
A late August night, a day after my father’s eighty-third birthday.
High in the walnut trees the cicadas make a sound that can’t be spelled.
It is there like a leak in the sky, behind the tall walnut trees.
It is the air being let out of the summer.
Letter to an Old Envelope
The emptiness you carry now
says more to me than words you once held
whatever it was long gone
not the message but the fact it was held
is why I held on to you
you carried those words across the decades
to where I would finally understand them
and now even empty you carry the name
of what became of what I wasn’t ready for
Receipts from something not a book.
The tongues of fortune cookies.
An envelope containing nothing,
the tears folded flat.
It might have been the last time
your name was written by that hand.
A bill you wanted to avoid opening
now opens a click of space
bigger than money, traveling time
by staying still. Something not a book
waits where you left the words.
It will take your attention like a ticket
whose destination is next time,
which you will shove in a book
to hold your place when the
landscape carries you away.