Raking the Leaves with Jack

By Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Pulling the rake through the cottonwood leaves,
I think of Jack in Michigan pulling his rake

through beech, birch, oak and ash leaves.
I stop to lean on my rake and I think

of him stopping to lean on his rake
and talk to the gods. I'm not so sure I believe

in gods, but I believe in Jack. I believe in kindness.
I believe in friendship that grows despite distance.

I believe that these rhythms of raking and making piles
bring us closer together--all of us rakers, all of us

who step into the slow cadence of pull and reach,
and pull and reach. There is something unifying

in this annual act of tidying the world. Every day
the news is full of all we can't set right. But we

can drag the rake through the yard so that we
can see the path again. And we can set the rake

aside and stare at the sky and think of all
the people we love and all the people

we'll never know who join us in this simple act,
reach and pull, reach and pull, reach and pull,

the sound of metal tines grating, the beat
of our own hearts scraping against our chests.

From her book Hush.