NOVEMBER, A RITUAL
Rain pads umber oak leaves stacked against the fence
like a lost card game, trickles the wooden gate,
its climbing slats worn slick as washed stones by
youth’s eagerness. Rain drums the empty bird house,
salts the tail of a squirrel radaring in on a hungry day,
pallors the deck built in the warm month of weddings.
Odd, how a color can imbed itself in the memory
of a child. I remember the yellow price tags
that hung loose as wilted mums on mirror
and cruet, on chairs patinated to gloss by time,
on my yellow sleeping bag, on the quilt it took
my mother so long to make from Dad’s tobacco sacks.
The buyers came slow,
calculating glances dripping the welcome mat,
the pale blue carpet. He must have wondered
what use a stranger might have
for the round table, its top found in a discard pile
and stripped and shined down to a worm-eaten finish
reflecting three generations. Or the drop-leaf that held
the frames of their children till the last, refusing to let go.
I remember him walking out to the porch
as if he knew the distance by heart,
his eyes already shuttered like old photographs. Saw him
fold the damp deck chairs that still held the awe
of golden Aspens in summer Canyonlands, keeping
what can never be sold. He closed the box
of crumpled bills sticky from wet fingers, rain
falling gentle on the wisteria bush, the well pulley,
running rusty off the clay bank. I watched as he put on
the same old gardening coat I slipped on today before I closed
the same door, everything let go, everything held close.
Evelyn Corry Appelbee
Evelyn Corry Appelbee, 89, of Henderson, Texas, is editor of manuscripts for books and poetry. She lives on thirty acres of pine and oak from which she receives inspiration. She has won many awards and been published in state and national anthologies, university journals, small press, newspapers and magazines. She has three children, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Her sign is Capricorn.