CAROL SHILLIBEER : Come the Fall
BRUCE DETHLEFSEN : A Vacant Lot in Guatemala

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Come the Fall A Vacant Lot in Guatemala  
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CAROL SHILLIBEER
Come the Fall
Not shaking cold but cold and wet enough that the man drinking in the park makes you remember. Ice between your toes, that oddly beautiful and delicate crystal lattice stretched between greying knuckles: January in the snow bank and far from comfort. But today, it's just a day when the October wind and spitting wet is more than a red sweater can bar. It's the coming grey world, winter rain and hidden ice the color of road- ways and concrete. It's that knowledge that threatens, just as much as do the knife-edged maple leaves cutting invisibly against wool threads. The worry, that sudden death: the tremble in damaged ankles, the knee- buckle because of a small stone that might lift up, its blurred edge pushing against precarious balance. But here, on the bench in the twilight, red trees swimming against the rain's tide, it seems there could have been another way of living. That man, his eye caught against mine, kept going, down to his brown bagged bottle. What he saw in me washed along on the current of feeling, and erupted briefly in the gully between his eyes, and mine. His face did not stay. Instead it fell, crumpled so that the skin folded along wrinkles and the bruise flaring all the way along his cheek raised quietly the transient image of some dark flower, long fallen from its stem. He pulled the bottle against his chest, cradled the bag with his gentlest touch. Shoulder curled into the trunk of the tree holding him up, he turned away, slPped down to the earth and fell asleep in the lowering light. There are so few days perfectly aligned to human need. Days like that, here just a few in spring and summer, become invisible because you can, in that time, warm and dry, no matter how hurt, pretend splendid isolation and perfect balance. There is no one then, and no other, no memory, nor time, no need it seems that cannot be met in the vast giving silence of the world. Most of the year, all winter, and much of the fall, the earth blares and refuses such illusion. Humming and colored the world shudders against you, makes itself felt; it can be sensed under a bare foot, even asleep, even nearly dead. Life under foot: the presence of another carries, like a virus, the dark shadow of self. The course of such a dis/ease: skin thins and we become permeable, irrevocably aware we do not really exist; and then, shaking with cold, even walking away will not suffice; an absent toe may roar from the dark place of its memory and there may be a fall, and under the world's immensity, a giving way.
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Come the Fall A Vacant Lot in Guatemala  
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BRUCE DETHLEFSEN 
A Vacant Lot in Guatemala 
from Something Near the Dance Floor.
a harmony of rats and roses fills the vacant lot next door with music separated from the world by walls of brown adobe the music rises as the roses shuffle in the wind of the volcano their thorns outstretched to claw and scratch the walls the music rises as the rats sway crooning in the ocean breeze a honeyed melody against a sky of blue and white and each red petal falls onto the yellow teeth of the marimba producing notes though sweet become the elemental horror of the song because all roses smell of rats and rats of roses
(Quetzaltenango, Guatemala 1998)
POETRYREPAIRS 12.12: 144
CAROL SHILLIBEER : Come the Fall
BRUCE DETHLEFSEN : A Vacant Lot in Guatemala

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