Susan Eyre Coppock

Pine Row Issue No. 8 Autumn 2023 - Featured Poet

Fall Foliage


“Jump in the leaves with me,”

the child shouts,

voice small in the windy air.

The slanting sun glances off

her leaping form,

that clear, telling light of fall

afternoons before winter.

She jumps and drops,

rolls and drops again.

I bend and throw them

- faded copper, occasional red -

into the air

doubting my knees

doubting how much day is left.


She runs into the old cemetery

while I stand at the edge,

the leaves here massed

in slopes and hollows,

against the mossy headstones.

Quick, she jigjags

as she winds diagonally

through the burial ground

bestowing clumps of bright leaves

on the graves.

As particular a blessing

as I could hope for

when I fall into the earth.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ball Change      


 Mother — hand on hip,

 jacket held back

 showing that the lining

 and blouse matched

 —pink and yellow silk tulips—

 feet placed

one in front of the other,

auburn head tilted to the side.

Any questions?


I had many,

most dying in my throat

as I shifted my weight

back and forth.

Being an expert,

she corrected my mistakes

It’s not pome, it’s poem.

Don’t say drapes, it’s draperies.

Do you have your gloves?

You don’t wear them.

You carry them.


Are my seams straight?

Nose powdered?

Lipstick - outline then pucker.

Beauty tricks lined up

like Rockettes

ready to fold over deftly.


So much to keep track of

in that Ginger and Fred

beau monde,

hoofing my fancy

two-step fly away.

Step, shift, ball change.

About the poems:  as shared by the poet

"Fall Foliage" started with an image of my granddaughter running and jumping on fall leaves in an antique cemetery near their home. It evolved as I thought about the continuation of life and what a true blessing that continuation is. I tried to fit in how one's perspective changes as we age. For example, I did not understand how inevitable physical aging is because, of course, that aging happened to other people until - oops - it started happening to me. So I was writing about the approach of death while trying not to be too explicit about it.

"Ball Change" is about my mother and the complicated relationship I had with her. She joined the Ziegfeld Follies at 16 without having finished high school. Since few people today know what the Ziegfeld Follies was, I mentioned the Rockettes thinking that more readers would know of them. She

married my father who had graduated from law school and she was suddenly in a different cultural world. She wanted to fit into this new world so she became something of an authority on grammar and deportment. She did not want to be dismissed as an uneducated hoofer. She never spoke of this but as I aged, I began to understand and have sympathy for her. I became the dancer in this poem, trying to use dance steps (ball change is a specific dance step in tap) to fly away from impossible expectations. What I am always striving for in my poems is image and heart. 

Susan Eyre Coppock is a retired French teacher. She published Cardinal Days: A Coming-of-Age Memoir in 2016. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nixes Mate, Common Ground Review, museum of americana, Paterson Literary Review, Free State Review, and elsewhere.

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