“How hard it is to take September / straight—not as a harbinger / of something harder.”
– Mary Jo Salter

The harvest must bring on these thoughts
of perfection: gold sungold, plump pumpkin,
thump of melon, tang of apples

Ripening the air, milkweed letting down
its seeds, our sons relaxed and easy
in mind and body as infants’ mouths

Slipping from the breast, fists in bloom—
each utterance a bounty
joy consumes, forgetting to store—

Around, the younger reads out loud,
moving his mouth like the word, seizing
with laughter—as the older plays Brahms,

Leaning the violin flat for the high notes,
saying the crescendo’s like in a book,
when you’re afraid something bad will happen—

And I feel it—that vertiginous lust
of fear you’d rather get to the end of
than live with, that we all live with—

Most as I pick up a light shirt, still warm,
from its tangle on the floor,
breathing the life that was just here.