As a kid growing up in New York,
I considered our fall second rate:
how I longed for the grand, mythological land
we exotically labeled Upstate.
In that Eden, I’d heard, leaves turned bright,
endless acres of yellows and reds,
while my single tree browned, dropping one tiny mound
that I kicked to the curb with my Keds.
Now I live several hours to the north,
and the maples and oaks truly blaze—
hues so loud they look fake—till the time comes to rake
without stopping, for numberless days.
And I daydream of trips farther south,
of the places I’ll shop, stroll and dine
in that part of the map where the leaves may be crap
but you don’t need a rod in your spine.
Melissa Balmain writes: “Like so many poems I write, this is a case of making lemonade out of lemons—or, more accurately, salad out of way too many leaves. My husband would like it known that in our family, he does most of the raking. But I do most of the talking about raking.”
‘Fallen’ was first published in Lighten Up Online.
Melissa Balmain edits Light, America’s longest-running journal of light verse. Her poems and prose have appeared widely in the US and UK. She’s the author of the full-length poetry collection Walking in on People (Able Muse Press), chosen by X.J. Kennedy for the Able Muse Book Award, and the shorter, illustrated The Witch Demands a Retraction: Fairy-Tale Reboots for Adults (Humorist Books). Her next full-length collection, Satan Talks to His Therapist, is due out in fall 2023.
Photo: “A walk in the woods” by Let Ideas Compete is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.