On the First Day That Feels Like Fall I Think of Her Then, the Age I Am Now

By Beth Marzoni
Feature image: Summer by Joseph Rubens Powell

& that restlessness
I barely registered
as a child, that we outran

or tried to, now & then,
the mountain roads,
Mom & me,

& in the mouth
all sap-weep.
All gum-fingered:

ponderosa & lodgepole
& limber & blue,
some summer-gutted

but not beetle-battered
yet—another century. Mostly
we went for the aspen

& the sky—a tarp
trying to hold together
what was named

for shaking apart.
The species there
all verb-called—

quaking, trembling—
though I thought
What the Light Spills.

I don’t remember
why or if I ever
heard what

those trees whispered
to calm her blood.
We would have

had the Polaroid
then, the chunky kind
designed for parties

& kids to pop it
awake with a spring
into another face to hold

before their face.
I liked to watch it
spit its black film tongue

& then the way
you waited for the world
that just was

here to come back
into view: there,
the tree & there,

your mother
as you’ll never be,
again, moment’s copy

smudged with aspen-
glow or flick-of-wrist,
some trouble, some wind.


Beth Marzoni lives in Galesburg, Illinois where she teaches at Knox College. She is the co-author, with Monica Berlin, of No Shape Bends the River So Long (Parlor Press, 2015).

Website: www.bethmarzoni.com

Feature image: Gift of John Nichols Estabrook and Dorothy Coogan Estabrook. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

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