My Father at Fifty
Among the fall golds and reds spreading over fully-ripened
yards with their crisp, spilled litter, long before leaf-blowers,
I would hear the scritch scratch of my father’s rake, turning up
earthy scents as incense-rich as leaf-mold, compost, soil,
while he raked fallen leaves into the pyramids of autumn.
Years have passed, the elms have died, my father has died.
When October’s wind whistles, I can no longer know its tune;
the words are lost, grassed over, and I have no shovel, no map.
Robert Miltner is Professor of English at Kent State University Stark and is on the NEOMFA faculty for poetry and fiction. He has received a Wick chapbook award for Against the Simple, a Red Berry Editions Chapbook Award for Eurydice Rising, and the Many Voices Poetry Prize from New Rivers Press, selected by Tim Seibles, for the collection Hotel Utopia. Recipient of an Ohio Arts Council grant in Poetry, Miltner was a finalist for the 2015 National Poetry Series and was selected by Kimiko Hahn as a finalist for the Trio House Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence.