A week or so ago, leaving work a little after ten on a night still and clear and warm, I could feel it; between one step and the next something inside skittered sideways, a dry leaf across the pavement out in the dark. Fall is coming.

It has been that every so many years something bad would happen in the fall, tearing across my sky like a meteor, burning away all the breathable air. I ended up with asthma and a pile of acronym diseases and a superstitious belief in the power of Fall Coming, a belief strong to the point where somebody mentioned October first and I ended up in the hospital for nearly a week, and then in counseling. It’s paying off. I’m finding what lies beneath that belief, burying the bones where they belong, leaving those old ghosts to lie in peace. Remembering to breathe.

But still there is that thing inside, that wanting to run down all the dark paths, to be in the night in the wind, to be a leaf skittering … I spent the night with that thing like a squirrel with a nut, turning it this way, putting my teeth to it there, watching the yellow half-moon light till sleep came. I woke to rain, and the daylight world.

Summer is going. There’s a quiet starting up in the night. Walmart with fewer kids. Moms pushing carts, a set look part stubborn, part tired, buying multiples of pencils and locker crates. Dads, with little girls in tow, saying “Yes I know what to do. Here is the list; here is the name of your school; here is your class,” to the querulous sounds of the daughters, curly-haired and not quite up to their dad’s waist. A shift from holiday mode, a resumption of serious and responsible. The band playing at the bar a block away sounding a little sharp and tired, maybe being pulled apart by both wanting to keep on and wanting to lie down and rest. Or maybe it’s just my ears, hearing some thing inside.

We went for a drive yesterday, east to a hub of used-car dealers. The trees less confident in their green, the warning flag of sugar maples still sparse. A lot, filled with old Volkswagen buses parked nose to tail, their tires flat, waiting to be cannibalized. A junk store like the old days, drawers and shelves piled, rooms sorted by ideas and generalities, the old man apologizing for the mess, me assuring him that it was my favorite kind of store, buying a tiny, tiny teacup, with a gold rim and a parrot for a handle.

This morning we heard geese overhead.

Nest week I’ll be starting school.

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