The Light in Autumn

Someone was weeping,
wailing really; it was hard
to know who because we wore masks
in those days—

perhaps we do still.
The light outside was, as they say,
autumnal, as lavish and unforgiving
as god. The wailer

didn’t stop, and eventually,
because no one gets in or out
of Kroger fast, we tracked him,
a bagger, bawling

like a child, some of us
asking each other if he was
okay, knowing and hearing,
of course, he wasn’t.

And though we may have
pitied him, we did not
go to him, he whose cry
was both performative

and cathartic. It would be
accurate to say that I personally
envied him a little
and admired him a lot,

but wouldn’t have
traded places. I bagged my own
groceries at the self-check
and got the hell out,

the keening finally behind me,
though I couldn’t stop
hearing it. Leaves flipped
us off with their golden

fingers, the clouds held back
a darkness—you could tell—
while the sun, well,
the sun was so strong,

I didn’t even have to
look that showboat directly
in the eyes for my eyes
to fill with tears.

The Atlantic