Quiet creeps down through old elms
now open to the clear autumn sky.
I stand before my childhood home
and the scent of burning leaves
loosens the grip of time.
In bushes near an iron gate
a concrete angel watches, a teacher.
She’s long awaited my homecoming.
She parts hazy curtains, welcoming
me to the clapboard house.
She returns the slatted swing to the porch
and the gazing ball to the lawn
near the sapling my father and I planted
before he went to war.
This lofty tree marks decades
and I’ve grown old and stiff.
yet under its spread
I take on the body of my youthful days
that rolled in piles of leaves
like a forest troll with twig-tangled hair.
A red orange leaf takes flight
and drifts aimlessly down to the lawn
where I stand with leaves from another time
still clinging to me.
Tony Gorry‘s essays, memoir, and poetry have appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Chronicle Review, The Examined Life Journal, The New Atlantis, The Fiddleback, Cleaver Magazine, and Belle Rêve Literary Journal. His essay in War, Literature and the Arts was cited as Notable in 100 Best American Essays 2012. His book, Memory’s Encouragement, was published by Paul Dry Books in April 2017.