By Narrative, By Argument, By Association, By Elaboration
from Robert Hass
First scent of autumn.
I doodle my own name and three hearts in the margin.
I look around to see if anyone is watching.
Where do the years go, my father used to say
back when he could talk.
There are strings attached, I know.
The oak; its leaf; the acorn:
a thing in motion; a quiet power.
Everyone wants for something, my brother says,
sounding now like our father. You are not alone.
At the far edge of where I will not go
are the tones I will not use.
What is time to a child? I hardly recall.
We were raised mercifully and are glad for it.
Between the end of things and the snow—
My father keeping on; my mother’s oh well.
I had my lists until those too fell by the wayside.
The little ribbon snake raised his head out of habit.
Against the losses, world without end, etc.
Mostly, I’m very very calm; non-negotiable.
Whoever took the pumpkins must have needed them.
Same goes for you, who made off with my heart.
I walk out at dusk so as to return home.
Mary Ann Samyn is the author of six collections of poetry—most recent, Air, Light, Dust, Shadow, Distance winner of the 2017 42 Miles Press Prize, and My Life in Heaven, winner of the 2012 FIELD Prize. She teaches in the MFA program at West Virginia University.