Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Poem by Jill Kelly Koren

What She Doesn’t Know

Leaving therapy, my daughter sees the leaf truck

its hum a hypnotism, a magnet

we stay to watch, parked by a big pile

as slowly, the leaf truck ladies

work their way down the block.

The one with the leaf-blower has her cap

on backward and smiles

at Esphyr, who lifts a small hand

from her stroller to wave. I wave

too but my eyes dart away as Backward Cap’s

smile fades—she knows

that I know what the yellow

jumpsuits and standard-issue navy toboggans

mean. She knows

I can’t stop myself from wondering

Was it drugs? Theft?

Surely not murder.

But they all smile at Esphyr in her stroller

for what she doesn’t know.

All she sees are the beautiful Leaf Ladies

hard at work—Backward Cap, of course,

but also Buzzcut with Sunglasses,

Surly Diva with Rake,

and the young girl

working the black-striped vacuum

twice her size—

sucking up the fallen leaves that,

now so beautiful in their borrowing

of every hue of fire, threaten to rot

and muck up the streets of the city.

Jill Kelly Koren is the author of While the Water Rises Around us, a chapbook of poems. Her poems have appeared in publications such as The Louisville Review, Women. Period., Red Lion Sq., and Literary Mama, among others. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Spalding University. Koren currently teaches at Ivy Tech Community College and maintains a blog with poet Matthew Vetter at She lives in Madison, Indiana (which is in Jefferson County) with her husband and their son and daughter. Her website is

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