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Caroline Johnson

Standing in a river of fire,
swept in a swirl of swollen maples
now breathing in October’s late
afternoon fashion show
like a lazy city tramp who has
lost his way and is
rustling in the leaves,
touching wicker bark and
wet, dark branches
like an operetta symposium,
it sings to us,
in shocking silence of golds, burgundies
with flames that leap towards quiet stillness.
Mauves and hydrangeas
and paint-by-number canvass
with soft brushstrokes someone has
fingerprinted happiness
and scattered the dreams of sunflowers
across Van Gogh’s sky, leaving
lime green speckled bushes, baby pine,
dead logs, and deer that stop for the moment.
“You see this tree here?” he said.
“When we come back here again, it won’t be the same.”
This poem appeared previously in Where the Street Ends and Distilled Lives (2010).
Used here with the author’s permission.

Caroline Johnson has published two poetry chapbooks, Where the Street Ends, and My Mothers Artwork. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and worked as a newspaper journalist for five years. She also spent a year in Hungary and taught English as a second language before earning her M.A. in English Education from the University of Chicago. Caroline currently teaches English at two community colleges in the Chicago area, and serves as president of Poets and Patrons of Chicago. See her blog at

Post New Comment:
“When we come back here again, it won’t be the same.” But what beautiful memories we can have thanks to your poem.
Posted 10/24/2012 06:23 PM
You have painted the scene on the drive to and from Upper Michigan in the Fall. We made that trip for several years so your words have made me see it once again. I especially like "swept in a swirl of swollen maples...", "flames that leap..." and "lime green speckled bushes...." Camille
Posted 10/24/2012 03:26 PM

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