A Fable of Leaves

by Beate Sigriddaughter

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.