Inside a copy of Nan Goldin’s The Other Side,
a photo of her roommate standing by a café
on Grove Street, orange light
mixing through her hair.
A photographer relies on light & speed
by necessity, a slight eclipse of something
momentarily stunning in the wake
of ordinary life. To snatch photos of autumn
in New York as the sun was rising,
fistfuls of red light scrubbing down the city.
Passing along any local street,
bundles of wet, dried, self-contradictory leaves
fold into themselves to die quietly, attractively.
This is the cool mercilessness of the season,
a skewed grace, things falling into place
& in doing so, falling apart.
Backyard bonfires fill the roads with smoke
& the sound of generic elderly voices; potentially
children eyeing up the size of the flames.
Potentially a moment of peace
for the families I imagine. Today
everything seems red; the coffee cups
at lunch, the buses, the sun, the neon sign
that suspiciously reads Welcome
in the dark empty window of an abandoned shop.
I wonder what it is that I’d be welcomed into,
what weird fun would red have in store for me?
Outside I see some friends on the other side
of the road. I don’t wave & before I know it
they’re gone, having walked into a pile of leaves.
I wonder if I’ll ever see them again.
It gets late, the leaves sink into the mud
& I can’t help but consider how each room in this city
has always smelt like autumn to me, always
like something’s burning.
Alex Matraxia is London-based writer, interested in queer identity and its relationship to memory, myth, and urban space. Their work has previously appeared in The ISIS, The Oxford Review of Books, Lucent Dreaming. They were the recipient of the Martin Starkie Poetry Prize (2018), the Graham Midgley Poetry Prize (2019) and the Future Creatives’ Writing Award
(2020). Their work is published in the Future Creatives’ anthology Tomorrow. ‘Autumn City’ was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (January 2021) judged by Oz Hardwick.