Editor’s Note: In honor of Door County’s rich literary and photography communities, the editorial staff at Door County Living decided to highlight both in this issue’s literature section. In late summer, we looked through dozens of photos from photography director Len Villano’s fall collection for an image that we felt best represents the peninsula as it is overcome with the beauty of color and decay of autumn. We were fortunate to connect with award-winning poet Mark Turcotte, a former Door County resident best known for his dynamic readings. His published works include The Feathered Heart, Road Noise and Exploding Chippewas. He was given no details on the circumstances surrounding this photo or the young boy in it and was tasked with writing a poem inspired by it. What follows is Turcotte’s interpretation of the autumn scene in his poem, “Autumn Door.”
for Jim Harrison, in the swoon
Have we — whether a step just within, just without — finally
arrived here to linger, maybe never pass, only dwell between
our own autumn and the autumns we have made of
memory? The autumn of time and one timeless?
Within the deep and smoky season, where so many things
have gathered, now, to await our grieving, our letting go of
everything gone. Listen to us. Rattle laughter of leaves.
Throaty lowing of white pines in lean.
Gone our father, mother’s hazel eyes. Gone our little brother
in the murky river. Gone our child — in the startled sky?
Gone lovers. Gone our big sister sticking out her tongue.
Gone our winding way.
Gone the mad woodsman scribbler. Old trickster. Boy, wolf.
And, then the thin and blurry season, where so many things
have gathered, now, to await our return, our rewaking of
everything that still remains. Look at us. A flash of something
like ourselves, our once leaping selves, abandoned to joy.
Still our mother, father’s horse chuckle. Still our little
brother of the splashing river. Still our child — startled by
the sky? Still those lovers. Still our big sister sticking out her
tongue. Still so many days.
Still the mad woodsman poeteer. Old trickster. Boy, wolf.
We could fly. Don’t you remember? We plunged into the
brittle, paused between soar and dive. We curled up and
sprung, hung like breath in the air. We lingered there, maybe
never passed, un and also born. Wombed in space.
Former Door County resident Mark Turcotte lives in Chicago and is a Senior Lecturer at DePaul University.