I find them beneath my persimmon tree.
They quickly turn to go though I
don't feel the need to be rough with them.
Fences are necessary, I suppose.
They can be meddlesome too.
These gentle folks pass every Sunday
to visit their boy in prison, they
only want to make a pie. I only want
to be asked first – a fence divides us.
She promises to bring me tarts
and that seems fair, and I think about
fairness and their son these days.
I am glad they go see him Sundays
and I tell them so. Their calm, courtesy
strikes me. Persimmon pie is part of her
Autumn ritual, something I cannot deny
her. I don’t know, don’t need to know
how it is they got off the main road.
They are seeking the sweetness that comes
after the bitterness has ripened.
Standing under a tree none of us really own
I see her boy back home years ago
gleefully eating a piece of pie. I see
her husband proud, happy, the gleam
in her eye, sweet sticky juice sliding
down the boy’s dimpled cheeks,
dark eyes aglow as he wipes his mouth
with the sleeve of a flannel shirt
and I want it to be that way again,
want sour taste expunged. Afternoon
gathers and we talk about a hard,
killing frost that makes the sweetness,
a cold harsh night that ripens
this rustic fruit. We shake hands
and I don’t look back as I return
through fields where yellow leaves,
orange, dusty, scarlet and intense
lay about me, toss around me
in the breeze that carries ladybugs
unsuspecting toward their graves,
timber standing in reverent silence
as before a judge, as if to judge.
Truly autumn is the most dramatic
of days. It is a time to remember
but it is also a time to console.