one precocious leaf

late August turning

conscious of itself and

how the tree, the mother

tree, all spring, all summer

long poured sap,

bearing in patience

the weight.


You know the rest,

something like a religious

movement among autumnal trees,

leaves considerately turning

weightless, singing eerie

mantras in the wind.


And the mother tree

whose effortless

spill was living wine

considers burden, agrees

and urges no more

strength into veins needing

less, then nothing,

nirvana fluttering

in glowing sainthood

to the dust

and the delight of children.


But the pine trees continue

less spectacular,

claiming no season

for death,

the needles hanging on

to life without clamor

or applause or shame,

piercing winter's

lace of snow with evergreen.