He stopped his walk along the country road
and stared up at the moonless sky.
He knew he shouldn’t be doing so, just as
he knew we had no choice but to do so.
The stars this far from the city were so
different than the city stars, so
much brighter, so much hotter, he said
to no one, infinitely hotter out here,
suspended in a space that was
infinitely cold, beyond all sensation.
He knew it was a mistake to stare
into the sky out here, for the city’s
stars were far less numerous, and burned
with the heat he knew he could bear, and space
was nothing more than a dark gray canvas
on which they chose to paint themselves.


I wrote down the biggest
mistakes I made in life
on the backs of newly fallen
maple leaves, and carried them,
a fair number, to the river.

I cast them onto the water,
some quickly swept up,
a few lingering on a fallen
tree partially damming
the flow, waiting for this.

Most disappeared as
the water approached
the falls, cascaded over
on its way to the waiting lake
and then to a place unknown.

This was an act of catharsis,
for the maple, if not for me,
a freedom, not to bear
the burden of impending winter,
frozen still with regrets.


“As you get older,” he said,
“the body grows remarkably
adept at telling you when
you have done too much,
or done something you shouldn’t.”

What he didn’t say, the critical
piece of advice I wish I heard,
is that the body only speaks
well after the fact, a lecture
surely, but never a warning.

No one wants to go a step
short, to miss whatever mark
someone randomly established,
but the price of a step too far
is high and often long lasting.

My back sat me down this
morning , and with that smirk
told me the lifting yesterday
could be paid for over a week,
and my arthritic knees nodded.