Flare

I tell you about the maple
turning yellow in the back yard,
how it tints the room lemon,
amber, gold, depending
on the time of day,
degree of light, how it

burnishes skin in gilt air,
how, when conditions are
just right—moon full,
night cloudless, tree blazing
its end-of-season glory—
anything is possible: sleep

comes easily or not at all,
you walk in the open window
on dreams—or visions—
shoulders, brow, muscles
of calves and thighs
glowing. Is this gold leaf

or gold leaves? you ask,
amused. Am I man
or art? You turn
for my inspection.
It doesn’t matter. The light
you cast fills the room,

gold hangs dusty in the air,
goldwasser brims in a glass
next to the bed. I want to
enjoy this spectacle,
but I know too much:
that light fades, goes out,

that leaves fall and molder,
that man and woman are flesh,
that gold is metal the value
of which the whole world
agrees upon, though it changes
day to day, that art is illusion

and the only thing that lasts.

(Flare was originally published
in the Common Ground Review.)
 

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