Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

(Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay)

The leaves have long since given up looking like leaves. They have been ground down, trod upon and whipped around by the wind and the men who come weekly to rake them up and carry them down to the floor of The Glen, where they linger only briefly before climbing up the hill, across the parking lot where they make their way, like butterflies, back to the trees where they were born. I am convinced they are the same leaves, transformed: sharp, tiny pieces of parchment on which have been written the secret love poems of Autumn. Their shapes are not all they have lost; their voices are gone now as well. There is nothing musical in their dancing nor rhythmic in the way they crunch underfoot. Now they are little more than slivers that sting the eyes and lodge under my pant cuffs in the ridges of my socks. They stick to Duncan, mat in his tail and the long hair of his ears where they don't even whisper anymore. They have ceased to be leaves, and leaves are what make the Autumn bearable. Now it is the sky alone which carries color.

Walk Whitman claimed, "Every leaf a miracle," and they are remarkable things, their veined surfaces bearing the rough shape of the tree, a map of their lineage, a living geneology of sorts. Like poems they are born of something bigger that falls away, becoming its own thing, something unique and without definition yet still carrying the mark of what it once was. Leaves are an essence of the tree as poems are fragments of that which inspired them, a moment, an image, a glance.

These once-leaves pain me. A week ago they were art, now they are little more than accumulation, biting reminders of what came before. They are dead poems, broken and cast aside, clogging my vacuum and unfit even for the tail of a dog.

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