Late Fall

Carolyn Guinzio


When the truck drove up, a mother was un-
pinning the freezing sheets. She was a duck-
booted mother, and all he could see was below
the knee. Meter-reader, census-taker, tax-
assessor, they all turned up the drive in a truck,
scattering the cats with a horn tap. There is
an eerie quaking in the faults of the back
yard that marks the border of being alone
and not alone. The distance between one
clipped corner of an ice-stiffened queen
sheet to the other is fatter and farther than
that. Whenever she felt a rumble of arrival
through the rubber treads of her boots,
the mother dropped her hands and ran
out front to find nothing, or nothing a body
could see. Another someone, level with her
in the hills, was traveling out of solitude,
into a quick calculation of value and use.
What reverberates through dirt from foot
to foot has to stop somewhere. It has to stop.
It has to stop somewhere. When the truck
drove up, some other mother, her hand
on her throat, peeked through the blinds
at an empty drive. She was staying inside,
leaving the sheets to hang in their coats of sleet.


Carolyn Guinzio‘s most recent collection is A Vertigo Book, winner of The Tenth Gate Prize and the Foreword Indies Award for Poetry Book of the Year. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry and many other journals. Her website is



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