You Arrive Like Fall, Suddenly

by Bob Bradshaw
The Writer's Block
First Place, January 2018
Judged by C. Wade Bentley


leaving my heart thumping
like a banging shutter. You missed

the bigleaf maples that hung
like mid air vineyards in spring,

their long racemes
of yellowish green flowers

heavy as grapes. Now
they have the anemic yellows

of leaves folded
like handkerchiefs waiting

to be pocketed away. That alone
should have alerted me to loss.

Haven’t the blow-wives long lost
their beautiful heads of white hair

to shearing winds?
Still, there’s hope you’ll stay, right?

Like the woolly mule’s ears
with her long blonde hair

you too feel at home
in the cool air,

one moment clinging to me
like a monkey flower to a fence,

as if intent on staying.
And yet the next moment

I sense you don’t need roots
–that like a moon jelly,

there isn’t a rock
or a patch of soil or a man

that could ever
anchor you.


I enjoyed the cascading couplets of this poem, like vines twining down an arbor, with nary a misstep in the voice, nothing to get snagged on. I was engaged from that delightful first metaphor, the “heart thumping like a banging shutter,” readying for a storm. Of course it’s not a new idea to see autumn as a foreshadowing of loss, but this poem refreshes the trope with concrete, sensory images. --C. Wade Bentley

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