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Robert Lietz

Fall Routes

      Bricks may well be     one form of selection    
/ reverence or driving one     -- in any

     explored lifetime     -- and being with you one form --
surrendering to grammars     -- when    

     too much absence     / too many ghosts and totems    
make two homes impossible     -- when

     barrels     and     program notes     share     parts
in not so ordinary round-trips      -- among

     the beans and goldenrod     / these     yellow-green
sweeps     -- at     sixty     blurred --

     like notes     or     nowhere news     -- recalling    
the basements of cathedrals

     and masonic theaters     / the songs in every breath --
accompanied by no one but the singers --

     come I suppose      to billboard-wide inconsequence --
and proving how far this is     -- these

     crows     / this white-railed fence     -- restricting
the three ponies     -- and these ducks

     themselves     -- aroused     by     that jugband music  
( wasn't it? )     -- bringing me away

     then home     -- from     these     announcements    
/ casualties     -- and     of

     necessity     to you      -- to this first weekend love    
there'll be no dog nearby to share us    

     / no dog at waking     -- stretched full length
for warmth between two sleepers --

     no     cragged     gnawed bones     / no tennis balls
below     the bed's edge

     where she left them     -- wooed from her nap    
by the moonlight's spill

     and dreamers here     -- ten and a half years
plus     -- and sure     -- to      her

     last breath     -- as     two     agreed    
on loving and forever.


Fall Routes

     And     -- sure --     we'll be     getting over this --
and     over     these fall routes     -- over  

     these rituals     we've made     -- for many months --
our custom     -- these     corners

     she     does not     come around     -- these     doors
she     does not     appear behind

     on opening     -- though     she     must have heard
someone     -- but     no

     pond-diving     / bee-snatching     -- no     snow-shaping
shepherd! --

                    stirred     by     scents    

     to the playground woods     or     brush-ringed water --
though     surely     we thought 

     another spring      / another     Christmas     -- eyeing    
our tree     and     ornaments     -- the     tree

     returned to woods     / and     ( again )     the snowman
raised     for her     to batter     -- but     gone    

     / but     sure     -- as     remembering     is     -- still
watching     -- since     it's     fall    

     it's     miles    / it's     ( earlier )     darkness     now   
and pumpkin stands     / porchrail

     grins and gramaces     / yard-lit     inflatables --
this silver-lassoed moon     -- above

     the leaf-fire lawns     and     at the wood's edge --
where     cider     or     mulled wine

     warms     them     some    -- enjoying     this
nearness     building    

     Liz     / Elizabeth!     -- the     feel
of     another     Friday's

     miles done.


Fall Routes

     One     stupid vein     artery     -- worsening --
and     no dog     now     -- waiting --

     until     I am up     and    showering     -- before
she will go from the bed's edge --

     or lying by my chair     -- enjoying     the day's
first scribbles     or     revisions --

     no pawing     / whimpering     -- to find me home
and weekdays finished     -- the joy

     in her world     whole     / and     her impatience
blessed     another     football Friday

     in Ohio.  And     so     we awake     Elizabeth --
even     two weeks     afterward --

     no dog     to ask us out     into the stiff grasses --
no     pricked nose     spattering    

     dog blood everywhere     -- part     of this course
the vet assured     we could be sure of --

     despite     the good lungs     / strong     heart --
the     ten years     plus     it took    

     to fit     the puppy ears     she could not manage --
leaving us to choose      -- desiring    

     ( of course )     another     spring     / another
Christmas     -- while     blood and time

     more    sure    / more     certain     than desire --
insisted     sleep     -- and     yes --

     for us     to share     our own     Thanksgiving
in her absence     -- at every corner

     sensed     and     asking     our attention --
that we might decide     / explain

     / say     what     this is     when vision
after     vision     run to center --

     what     our depending is     -- and     
these     eight    

     / almost     nine     years    
spent altogether.