“Autumn Door”

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.”


Photo by Len Villano.

Photo by Len Villano.


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.

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