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 www.2poets.blogspot.com. She lives in Madison, Indiana (which is in Jefferson County) with her husband and their son and daughter. Her website is www.jillkoren.com.
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