It is March.
The Ides approach, and
I am raking leaves.
It is work that needs doing.

Leathery oak leaves,
wet and matted maple
lay where they fell, late.
Snow in October
fell dazzling on
the saturated palette of Autumn.

Each morning I pass a sign,
askew now from the spray of snowplows.
Faded letters read ‘Fall Cleanup’
with a number that nobody had
a chance to call.

I line up rows of leaves
blown against the fence
dragging them to the edge
of the driveway tarmac.
Each pass reveals fresh Earth.
The smell of Spring clashes with
the work of October or November.
It is work that needs doing.

The rhythm of raking
breeds metaphors. Of work left
undone last season, in different light.
A generation whose circumstance
saw snow fall before the leaves let go.
No fault. Just the way the year
wound down. No chance to clean up.

Looking out, rake in hand, it
seems reasonable to clear.
Make piles. Move
leaves from here to where
they will do what they will do
anyway. Crumble and decompose.
Become loam.

And the path of the rake marks
steady progress. But a little way
in, the piles stretch out,
my wrists strain.

I despair. Frustration.
This work, it needs doing. Left undone.
It may never be finished.

To move leaves I spread a tarp.
Working alone, the wind blows the edges.
The leaves too. The tarp sails up. Again and again.
Cursing, I bring the rake down.
The plastic neck cracks. The broad fan droops.
Knowing what I’ve done,
I sweep across the leaves.
The crack widens. Angry, I finish it.
Cursing. Snap the handle across my knee.

Without pause, I gather the pieces
and put them in the garbage bin. Grab
another rake, the metal one. Wrangle
the tarp. Move the last pile.

I am writing a poem. It is March.
The Ides approach. I let the metaphors pile
up. They lay where they fell. Blew
into spots where I can’t let them lay.

When they lay about, they hide progress made. They lie
about the past. And the future.

A poem to pile thoughts for the next time
I am raking in the March breeze. I line up the rows
of words. Move them a short distance. So I can be
a different man. Cleanup. Work that needs doing.

Hyphenated, father, academic, juggler, cyclist, cook. Philosophy of life: give.

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