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    brown and orange autumn leaves in the sunlight

    Poem: “After Helping My Father Rake the Leaves”

    By Jean L. Kreiling

    October 14, 2021
    • Ron Bailey

      The Fall leaves poem in a current issue is a wonderful example of how to use transitional line break to avoid the paralysis of rhyme. Not a fan of rhyme, it is always terrific to come across a rhymed poem that works. I lived in Delhi for several years - H.S. principal. Love the Catskills.

    • Margaret Baird


    • Lindsay Rust

      A simple thank you - I have been on sacred and holy ground. Beautiful images of the physical that disclose a deeply shared love. The photo complements.

    • Barbara Richmire

      How much I love this beautiful poem. ❤️

    First, I took a running leap,
    and then, half buried in the heap
    that we’d raked up, I lingered, caught
    in a cocoon of leaves and thought.
    I still remember how they smelled,
    those castoffs autumn winds had felled—
    both old and fresh, both wild and clean,
    the sweet decay of summer’s green;
    and how they looked—small flags half-furled,
    hot colors from a chilling world.
    I breathed more deeply for a few
    enchanted seconds. More leaves flew
    as Dad watched, leaning on his rake.
    He must have known what seasons take.
    Leaves bright as fire broadcast their dark
    reminder: beauty was a spark
    that couldn’t last, the freshened breath
    of autumn air foreshadowed death.
    But even so, my father grinned
    and turned his face into the wind.
    Years later, I’d learn just how brave
    my father was, and how a wave
    of chill or doubt could leave him caught
    in his own grim cocoon of thought.
    A darkness stalked him, but he lit
    bright fires of love and work and wit,
    and faced the wind, and found his way
    for decades past that autumn day.
    And now I kindle every flash
    of memory that warms the ash
    of loss. I see his profile still,
    and face my autumns with his will. 

    brown and orange autumn leaves in the sunlight

    Photograph by Jessica Fadel

    This poem was shortlisted for the Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award in 2021. Find out more details and how to enter your poems here.

    Contributed By

    Jean L. Kreiling is the author of two collections of poetry, Arts & Letters & Love (2018), and The Truth in Dissonance (2014). A longtime Powow River Poet, she is also Associate Poetry Editor of Able Muse: A Review of Poetry, Prose & Art.

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