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Waking October Leaves: Reanimations by a Small-Town Girl

by Virginia V. James Hlavsa


Lost Brother

Before unbound, we faced each other, wound,
cowled in child-nighthood of play mate.
Now, from without, the slow white knobs of hate
slide, lump, collide and slide again,
     dumb and sinister,
under some dreamed-up water weight.

But then, within, there was foul play —
was kick and pinch and scratch and sock
and back-pinned arm and hair-yank shock
and brittle thumb on bone-dry gum.
     Total war. Single combat.
Keen-eyed Batman, I had you in holy deadlock,

until you, one warm noon, pushing ahead,
step on my neck, awake.
Underwater, I, bursting, upbreak,
feel your buoyed surge, your silvered flick;
     thickly I, rising too,
breathing at last, gasp after your lost wake.



These poems relate the experiences of an introspective small-town girl growing up during the late 30s and 40s from the retrospective vantage of an urban-wise adult of the 80s and 90s, exploring a singularly traumatic hidden event, uncommon to the time, that affects the rest of her life.


This collection of poems forms a narrative full of keenly remembered moments and sharp insights into one woman’s journey from childhood to artistic maturity. Her imagery is both imaginative and provocative. It is the work of a real poet.
— James A. Michener, author of Hawaii, Centennial, and Alaska

An autobiographical kaleidoscope: flash photos and sound bytes of people and passions, then and now. . . . As I read and reread these poems, I feel . . . the very thunder and lightning through which these poems were created.
— Nancy Larrick, author of Let’s Do a Poem