THE COLOR YELLOW, LOVE, THE FALL OF LEAVES IN AUTUMN
by Roy Bentley
Jorge Luis Borges believed that “poetry is something that cannot be defined without oversimplifying it. It would be like attempting to define the color yellow, love, the fall of leaves in autumn.”
—Edward Hirsch, “From A Poet’s Glossary: Poetry”
Some days in May, a sunrise of redbuds will apron the clouds
and light pour across development lawns gold with dandelions.
My father told me living with others was a matter of knowing
when to weed and when to mow. I don’t know how he woke
without fail at six-ten, Monday through Friday, year after year.
How he got ready for work—showered, shaved—and collected
a prepared-ahead-of-time sack lunch and a Thermos of coffee.
Sleeping in was a poor excuse for working to retire in Florida
where the shirts-on-the-clothesline May air just isn’t the same.
Mother said the light there was numbing, in the Sunshine State,
but she respected my pops whose idea it’d been to move there.
Love was working like he did. Love was keeping his clothes
laundered. Setting that brown-bag lunch where he expected it.
In the Florida town where they lived he said he missed autumn.
The settling-to-earth of leaves. Seeing oaks and maples scrawl
reds and yellows like signatures across the fall sky above lawns,
by the stop sign on Lucky Avenue and State Route 79. He hated
poetry. Called it “useless,” though his world stank of moments
that overfill houses like the scent of coffee brewing the hour
before light clothes you and you set off to weed and mow.
Roy Bentley has received fellowships from the NEA, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Pleiades, Blackbird, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Books include Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama), Any One Man (Bottom Dog), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House). His poem “And Blood on the Tracks in the Tape Player” appeared in Issue No. 12 of Cleaver. He has taught creative writing and composition at universities and colleges throughout the Midwest and in Florida.
Image credit: Larry Chen on Unsplash