This time of year, the leaves,
except for one or two stalwart holdouts, have fallen.
You can see far into the woods,
far enough to see the ghost factories
that populate so much of New England:
Fallen roofs and broken glass
and trees growing through doorways.
In a way, it is your favorite time of year,
a season of exploring the abandoned
and almost forbidden, a season to capture
the lost, if only for the flicker of a camera
and a few moments of chills down your back.
A season of comraderie with the dead.
You wander the remains, breathing in the ghosts,
adding them to your own. the collection of the lost
things that populate your soul,
Once, you can remember the time.
You were about nine and afraid of ghosts.
Haunted houses were real and the spirits
were dangerous. You would cry out in the night
as they infected your dreams, more real than real.
Do not ask me what changed. Do not ask when
ghosts became your friends. How you learned to
dance and laugh with them, and tell their stories,
like a lover’s secret. Do not ask me
when at least part of you became them,
and you learned to sing their songs
as your own here in stick season
where the dead limbs of almost winter
allow us to see a bit deeper
into the forest.
About this poem
Here in New England, we call the part of fall when the leaves have fallen but the snow has not, stick season. It’s one of my favorites, being able to see into the woods, all the things hidden by summer.