11.3 (Spring 2007)   The 2River View  

Ruth FoleyListen


After Raking

The trains seem suddenly close—
through falling leaves, the flash
of metal draws near, rumbling gold
and red in late afternoon sun.

I love the sweet futility of raking,
the sweep and scrape of leaves
against the tines. I love the apples—
too small to eat, they make a satisfying thunk

in the compost bin, lend weight
to paper bags light with leaves.
I love the clean swath where rake first touches ground,
and the way the leaves slide down

to soften the edges of the path, like batter
on a spoon when a finger is drawn through it.
I love standing in the shower after sundown,
raking flecks of leaf out of my hair.

There is no better clean than after raking,
ligaments loosely hitching bone to bone,
steam streaming behind you in puffs
as you slip into comfort and night.


September 22, 1938

Green Hill, Rhode Island

After the hurricane claimed
the left wall of her house,
she climbed the stairs to where
her bedroom used to be.
Her boyfriend had a house there, too.
When the sea came, it took
everything from him—each plank
of wood, each bed, each tiny
piece of him, a larger part
he never brought himself
to name. What it could
not move—the stone foundation,
the beach-rock steps—it buried
under blankets of sand.
He found his thick black
towel in the waves, hung it
on her mother’s line to dry,
kept it for the next sixty years.
He took a picture of her
sitting on her stairs, long
legs muscled under her like
she was steeling herself
to leap. Her brothers, her father
stand in the yard and in
the exposed living room, shielding
their eyes as they look up
at her, at the possibilities
opened by catastrophe.




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