Leslie Schultz



(with a tip of the hat to Billy Collins)

How agreeable it is not to be touring New England this autumn,
wandering her various cities shining on hills, nestling in vales.
How much better to watch the stalwart corn
brown in flat Midwestern fields, listen for the mouse rustling
in columnar acres of drying stalks.

There are no colonial thresholds here to cross,
no shadows cast by roofs with seven gables
or crimes of Puritans scourging human hearts.
No need to seek an acorn underneath
the Homestead’s transcendent Amherstian oak.

How much better to catalog our garden’s lovely weeds
than climb the hallowed staircase to The Mount
and count Wharton’s vast achievements—with spare words,
with keenly sculpted landscape, with serene interiors.
We’ll spend our time in silence, gathering seeds.

And why lament the loss of college visits,
when down the street loom stony Gothic arches?
Don’t Carleton’s bells peal as sweet as Williams’s?
And buildings at St. Olaf gleam handsome and bespoke
as any walls that cloister Mt. Holyoke?

Instead of boarding a silvery Amtrak train
and snoring as it licks the valleys up,
then hoping for a smoke-free rental car
and rented beds without the bite of bugs,
we can ground ourselves in joy, right where we are.

Let’s settle here, my young, ambitious scholar,
and peep through college view books as leaves turn.
We’ll just imagine how New England trees will burn.

Leslie Schultz’s collection of poems, Still Life with Poppies: Elegies, is new from Kelsay Books. She has published poetry, fiction, and essays in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Able Muse, Mezzo Cammin, Swamp Lily, Poetic Strokes Anthology, The Pacific Review, The Northern Review, The Madison Review, The Mid-American Poetry Review, The Midwestern Quarterly, Stone Country, Sun Dog, The Wayfarer, and Third Wednesday, and in a chapbook, Living Room (Midwestern Writers’ Publishing House). Three of her poems are stamped into the city pavements of her home town, and in 2013, one of her haiku was included in the payload of NASA’s MAVEN mission and is currently orbiting the red planet. She has published two middle-grade novels featuring main characters who are homeschooled with Do Life Right Press: The Howling Vowels (2011) and And Sometimes Y (2013). Schultz posts poems, essays, reviews, interviews, and photographs at www.winonamedia.net.