Nick Patten  © 2008 All Rights Reserved

Fall Cleaning

Books read, unread, and never-to-be-read,
jottings, the remains of paid bills, old tax forms,
unopened software, letters years old still to be
answered, manuals, CDs, Judith’s note saying
Cecily’s ballet class has been canceled 20 years
ago, a picture of my mother, in her 30’s, standing
by Arthur Melrose dressed in a dinner jacket. Out-
side the frame of the picture—1½ x 2½ , black
and white, fading—live his brothers, and Helen
and Jennie, his sisters, and Jennie’s Model T with
the rumble seat, ancient even then, and her picking me
up at the train station at Huntington, Long Island,
the clatter of her car seeming louder than the great diesel.

The morning after. Everything spread about the family
room looking for order, for boxes, for trash cans, for
attention. I lie in bed reading Jorie Graham, “The earth
curves more than I had thought /at first.” Yesterday
sinks just beyond the horizon. I poke among the seaweed
for what is left, cast up, from the shipwrecks of each day,
365 a year, back and back, “In the beginning, there was...”

Nils Peterson
Copyright © 2008


Nils Peterson is Professor Emeritus at San Jose State University where he taught in the English and Humanities Departments. He has published poetry, science fiction, and articles on subjects as varied as golf and Shakespeare. His poetry has been collected in Here Is No Ordinary Rejoicing, The Comedy of Desire, and Driving a Herd of Moose to Durango.

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