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by Edward C. Doerr

An empty doorway and a maple leaf,
The letter “i” dotted by a discarded
Fleck of a late-October evening.

(That is how I remember her)

It’s not a leaf, not exactly —
But a sketch of a leaf
That I covered with
A sheet of white paper
And dusted over with
A charcoal pencil.
It’s a shadow of a leaf,
A ghost,
A frozen imprint on a brick wall in
The aftermath of a bomb raid.

I brought it home from school,
Clutching it in my tiny hands
As if it were a sacred text,
And she looked at it, her mouth first
Widening in an O of delight —
Her mouth like the yawning gape of
The kitchen doorway I stood beneath —
And her hands clapping in front of her chest.
She took it from my spongy hands,
Smiled at me.
Leaning down close, I could smell the
Chamomile scent of her warmth.
So proud of my eerie art project,
She leaned up on the tips of her white tennis shoes
And propped it on the top of the doorframe,
Where it perched precariously,
An autumnal gargoyle.

(That is how I remember her)

And now, I stand in the open mouth
Of the yawning doorway,
Lost in the charcoal wonders of that leaf,
Seeing it as I couldn’t before.
Its veins like well-traveled roads on a map.
Its cracked and frayed edges are
The battle scars of loss.
And I think about the tree from
Which it plummeted,
As it danced a tango with the October wind,
Drifting to the ground,
Knowing that it should feel more
But supplicating, instead, to the wind
And falling —that’s all it can manage.

Will someone, then, also find me —
Lost —
And clutch me in a pair of spongy hands,
And run a charcoal pencil over
My cracked and frayed frame?
Will a mother take this imprint of me,
This ghost of me,
And prop it on top
Of her kitchen doorway,
Reaching up on the tips of her toes,
As my mother once did,
To immortalize her baby’s creation?

(This is how I remember her)

Copyright © 2007 by Edward C. Doerr

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