Magazine article The Antioch Review

Autumnal

Magazine article The Antioch Review

Autumnal

Article excerpt

Autumn, so you stand in a bloodbath of leaves and light, summer cut to pieces and floating its tossed scarves on the burnished water and away from the spit of land where you stand, unsmiling, confused. I'm a woman gone mean in the season's turn.

The switch you snap from among the bent grass is ruby red and limber as a long-legged girl, the switch that I catch as you flick at a stone and think of my bare knee. I dig the stick from your grip and swat your wooly curls, brighten at the good suck-whap when it lifts the shirt from your back, bites your open neck.

It feels too good hitting you out here, where anyone could see but no one is. Another two in Ivy League sweatshirts step out of the woods, say "Hi," and stumble away when they see. The end of the land is ours, we say with the stare that sends them off.

I hurt you and hurt you because the stick is red and made for this. You snap a new one and sit in a ball wanting to look small, pitiable, a way to fight fighting back. But I am crazy dancing now, one foot up the hill one foot down, going for the cheek you've turned. I get your ear's soft rim red.

Autumn, and Saturday, so there's all the time in the day, and nothing we want with words. Nothing the punch of light can't say, cool air slapping welts in the lake until we tire and carry our marks back to the quaint room, the lodge restored to turn-of-the-century luxury, a bed we rent at a price that could buy our own.

We lie in the afternoon after, the red sticks captured each from the other and tossed to the lake. …

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