in ceremony and smoke,
the cedar chests open
to sweet smelling clothes,
with leaves, leaves
lifting from drifts
and covering the parked cars.
After the opera, the dinner dance, the ball,
the river fills
with long, white gloves
and cummerbunds, carnations and swollen corks,
the programs creased
like toy boats,
of moments grown thick
with the eternal.
The hostess wears
a sleek mask of feathers, her face
worn thin as paper,
nearly torn beside the lips.
There is candle light,
cool air. October:
silver flasks in hip pockets.
The tailgates open
to casseroles, kegs of beer. At dusk
the stadiums empty. A few stragglers,
the plastic sacks,
the sifting of garbage for loose cans.
Through windows on the walk home
the glow of kitchens, the kettles of soup.
The first shards
of headache behind the eyes, scores flashing
on the screen, a friend nursing a last drink
as the weekend
folds its arms across its chest.
And the months ahead narrow into belief
and a bitter loneliness;
how very cruel faith seems
to the faithless, how light the wrapped package
that is given by heart alone.
A thin, stray wind
down the chimney fills the room
with smoke. October.
All is foolish except honor and love.
The children in costume. And the long nights begin.