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Long Division by Andrea Cohen

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Explanation of Autumn

Cohen, Andrea

I explain to Gus, my neighbor’s son,
the trees aren’t dying, it’s just
the leaves migrating south.
Like geese? he asks.
So they’ll be back?
Like geese, I say,
in the abstract.

He drags a stick
across the dirt, marking
his turf and mine as boys
by nature do and wonders
how to tell a dead tree
from one expecting foliage.

Together we test a beech
tree’s branch: the easier
it breaks, the less
it’s like a river, the less
alive it is, I tell him.

Crossing the street,
he takes my hand and bends
my brittle finger back, hungering
for blood or sap, thirsting
to understand how close
to kindling I am,
how close to ash.


Copyright © Andrea Cohen 2009

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