Out of the Mouths of Babes

Suzi Banks Baum

A Poem of September
after Martha Collins’ Several Things

Several things could happen in this poem.
The dog’s ears could perk up like prairie dogs
at a loud sound outside the door of the cottage
that is open today to welcome the golden falling light.

The seamstress could look up from the buttonhole
she is stitching with silk floss down the left side front
of a russet colored jacket to be worn by a man
who is to be wed this very week.

The dog could run out the door and tumble
over a bowl of chestnuts left on the stoop,
sending the hard lacquer-like orbs across
the porch like so many scattering marbles.

The man in the hammock could wake with a sneeze
and the dog could bark in alarm now
chasing the nuts across the weathered floor and down
the stairs, badly in need a coat of paint before winter.

A teacher could arrive carrying
an armful of handmade journals for the seamstress,
books with which he could seduce her.
In his pocket is a new pen for doodling.

The man could slip in to the kitchen by the back screen door
which he closes in silence as he steps toward the stove
to stir the stew and put up a pot of water for tea,
Earl Grey, which he knows the teacher likes.

They could sit in the sunny kitchen, the three of them
around the striped tablecloth in wooden chairs
salvaged from a luxury liner built in 1913 and begin their meeting
with “Hello my name is Paul and I am a grateful member of Al-Anon”.

It could rain, suddenly, as it does in the fall, in this poem,
streaking leaves down from the ginkgo, more gold than rain,
but the rain passes through this poem quickly,
leaving crystal drops upon the chestnuts at the base of the steps.

Later, but not much later, they will eat their stew
and sip the tea, but first, a timer chimes, announcing
a cake the seamstress baked for the teacher and her man,
who share a birthday, which is today. They could compose as in thirds, a letter they
will write to the girl they all love, who has moved far away.

Last but not least, you could appear, tripping on the chestnuts but not falling,
entering the open front door and there in the kitchen,
you could announce something these three have longed to hear.
Leaning your walking stick in the corner, you could pull a chair up
to the letter and pour out your heart to the girl,
for whom your missing has caused you to traverse miles,
dance over chestnuts and join this circle, just in time for grace.

@ Suzi Banks Baum
September 30, 2013

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