Geoffrey Long


Autumn colors shimmering on the reflecting pool of the Mississippi:
Oranges, yellows, reds, all hues from the wide palette of leaves overhead,
And through those leaves strides the wind,
The thieving wind that steals a few leaves away with it,
The innocent wind that brushes playful ripples into the water,
The carrier wind that ushers the light tinny sound of Brahms
Through the trees and over the rocky banks
As it makes the riverboat tethered there sway lightly on the river.
The music comes from aboard the Sweet Times -
And there, on deck, silhouetted against the ruddy sun of one last October evening
Is a man, perhaps the captain, slowly waltzing with a young girl
To the thin strains rising from his grandfather's phonograph.
As they dance the wind plays through their hair
And blows a single leaf up onto the deck
Where it strays uncertainly around their feet for a moment
Like a lost kitten longing to join the dance,
Before it is swept quickly, brusquely, over the side.

Slowly the music begins to dwindle, winding down in time with the wind,
Running out beside the light of the setting sun.
Slowly, the music fades, and the waltz draws to a close,
The partners drawing together as the last note echoes,
Ending the dance with a single long, whiskery kiss
Planted on the forehead of a girl who might one day be the captain
Of an old inherited Mississippi riverboat,
Waltzing and dreaming away evenings of her own,
Someday dancing silently with a grandchild herself,
Simply, quietly closing some future October.




© Geoffrey Long, 1996
Lines: 31
Words: 263

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