Now the trees are throwing leavesshaped like hearts. Wind-blown
rustle, then they hit the ground hard.
I pick one up that looks like me –
small, weathered, freckled.
Tomorrow children collect candyin their pretty pails and sacks,
wearing wings and capes,
plastic fangs and face paint,
like trees that haven’t shed yet –
colorful, with full limbs, not bare.
They’ll knock on doors
with whole, green hearts.
This is the last poem I wrote for the Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project. Although I had submitted to participate in August (the month of my birthday, and a month I wanted to turn around from previous years' August experiences by taking positive action), August was full, and it was offered to me to participate in October. October, it turned out, was a perfect month because I love October - I love Fall, I love Halloween, I love the weather, the Pumpkin Spice Everything, the smell of burning leaves, the sexy knee-high boots.
Yet I didn't write many Octoberish poems. Some poems were even culled from ideas I'd had over the summer - the 30/30 Project served as sufficient motivation to finally flesh those out instead of leaving them to sit indefinitely, or until that rarer-than-lightening phenomenon occurs: inspiration striking. I've found that inspiration can be found, nudged, roped in and made to appear when you need it, if you sit and expect it, or more accurately, need it, like you do when you've made a commitment to a major independent literary press.
Anyway, instead of Octoberish poems, I wrote what I tend to write - emotional exploration and exposition through autobiography and character sketches. October was an emotional month. Ultimately, I only wrote 29/30 poems because I took one day in the middle of a crisis - my dear cat, Molly, became very ill, and I was trying to provide hospice treatment for her at home. I struggled through and produced poems - 29 poems - even poems I could be proud of, but that one day in October the alternating grief and hope and sadness of my little cat's hospice became too much. Poems can help you through tremendous pain, but there are moments when poems don't matter - moments when you can and must only sit, breathe, be by yourself, or with some other being, alone. Though poets, like all writers, are almost entirely solitary people, and writing is considered a most introverted activity, writing a poem immediately and necessarily invites another in - a reader. Some days you aren't ready for or open to a reader.
This last day of October I went for a walk and found hearts on the ground, on the asphalt, on the brush and grass and weeds to the side of the road. They were leaves in the shape of hearts. Or hearts in the shape of leaves. I picked one, and picked it up, and brought it home. I took a picture of it, and that's it next to this poem. For the last day of Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project October 2014, I wrote an October poem.