COLLEGE VISIT IN AUTUMN
All morning the parents steal memories from their
children. A father passes an old elm where
a sugar maple now stands, remembers a girl who read Eliot
under the tree, her long, bare legs stretched out
as if her life had never required hurry.
The tour guide shows an empty classroom and a mother
hears her old professor: Question, question everything,
especially when you have no questions.
Their children trail but dare not smile
having decided all of this is adult.
As I walk by the group, I hear it, one girl speaking
to her mother—it is my voice, was my voice,
and I see the mother’s watery eyes, their whites yellowed
like old photographs. The daughter says,
“We should eat now. Before you get too tired.”
The girl is hit with autumn sun—so bright
that it breaks on her scalp, white, falls down
over her feet, falls as if
the sun is something tangible
to scoop off the ground for later use.
The mother nods as the guide explains that the city campus
once was a farm with deer and bear. The mother looks up
the grassy hill as if to see one of them
passing by on its way to the creek.
The daughter asks, “Mother, are you listening to me?”
The tone is what had been my own, and probably my mother’s
before that. The memories, the moments slip from one to the next
with a slow flutter, like a girl’s yellow hair-ribbon sliding
off her braid as she races down the hill toward the creek,
toward the doe she wants to come to the edge.
fiction poetry "fact" photography