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The Leaf that Stayed

Stop. Go.

Spring comes dotted, stalling

Green. Red.

Spring sputters, sprayed in both

Colors indistinct with a certain blindness.

The last gasp of a younger perspective,

The sugar kept all winter in the broken, now budded, branch.

In winter, north wind slid over coated ice.

The branch cracked and flexed sprawled, crooked twig fingers

Together strong, balanced straight, up reaching

Down into the ground stable, ignorant of difference

Between its roots and branches.

Disconnected, it mistakes the stability of one

For the other,

Its last.

A season’s true self delayed

In a color caught between.

I waited, wanted to see those red buds flower,

But, the snap of machinery cut down the brownness.

Buds and branches

Returned to the field,

Spliced and piled. Ordered. Clean.

That’s what steel does, cuts down brown

Red isn’t green, at least not

The painted over kind.

The leaf that stayed,

Once red

Once green

The leaf that stayed

Stayed brown, stayed to watch.

A dry hand

Cupped palm

A summered leaf more brown than soil

That bathed in sunlight breath less yellow,


Bleached in another’s toxicity.

Coughing lips.

Growling stomachs.

Birds twitter.

Mice scuffle.

Which is sure of which need to fill?

Plows and dog nails dig.




We can’t beat hunger when we don’t acknowledge

Which hunger we look to feed.

Red. Green.

Blood. Money.

The seasons of nature are no longer reliable,

So too, human nature wanting.

Even the leaf that stayed,

Can’t stay.

I didn’t notice when

A stem let go.

Preferred to fall away from a field’s false promises.

It must float, so many final turns,

My feet crunch through

Into the ditch turned grave for yet another body,

Still, I think the bodies remain still.

Too still, but not still enough.

Which of us is confused?

Shovels and decisions dig




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