David Allan Cates
I live in Missoula, Montana, and for 18 years have worked as executive director of Missoula Medical Aid, leading groups of medical professionals to provide public health and surgery services in Honduras. I've published five novels and a chapbook of poetry, and am a part-time teacher at the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University. Yesterday I played hockey at noon and cribbage in the evening. I'd go flat out mad if it weren't for games. My webpage is davidallancates.com.
Not Quite Fall
Hollyhocks, pink shimmers north of the road
over blurred yellow grass, a smattering
of red sumac and still green oak hedging
the field make me stop the car and get out.
Standing, leaning, the only thing moving
is rising from the reeds and shadow stacks
of hay among Van Gogh flowers—what my
brother and I named Aug, too long ago—
what fairies leave when night flees in August,
when dew bejewels spider silk and the ground
turns to mist that again veils the valley
like a fall bride. What did we know? What we
needed, I suppose. I listen to summer
birds discuss winter. One, then another.
I glimpse the first one from my corner chair--
the perfect angle to see into a ring
of shrubbery in the yard—then another
and another, as if it’s suddenly
blossomed summer while I slept, dozens of
orange flowers in a secret circle
just steps away. Outside, I duck between
branches, crawl in to lie down with my dog
on tangles of poppies matted by deer.
We look past the brush, across the yard, through
the window to the empty chair and room
where I’ve lived alone and for a long time.
I see a woman inside and wonder
who she is. I hear her calling the dog.
We might pretend we’re lions in tall grass
or thrush in the beechen green or turtles
dipping under lilies, bubbles rising
in the dark to make elegant, silent
pops, but listen: It just takes time to make
the fall, to know the surrender we fought
and thought we could never make—to the chain-
breaking notion that in the throat deep down
we’re naked frogs and not alone, that no
matter how high we thought we could soar, we
can’t sing better than the croaks of desire
and dread that slip past our lips when we gaze
up: from the same wet log at the same sky
and stars as every other frog on earth.
© 2017 David Allan Cates
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