Think of a single autumnal leaf,
Ablaze like a sun consuming itself;
The closer to death the brighter
It glows, crackling like a fireplace
Straining against a winter yet to arrive
But about to, an unwanted guest approaching
Along denuded footpaths—inevitable?
A hawk spots something, takes wing
From a branch with cold desire.
He does not know that his hunger shakes the leaf
Loose from its mooring, veins bleeding color
Like whale-blood in water, thrashing in a
From on high the hawk sees a quilt of senescent leaves,
And approaching, a team of loggers,
Chainsaws cawing without emotion:
Are they predator or prey?
The still trees breathe in and out.
The leaf too has gone still.
Nothing happens in the forest
That hasn’t happened before:
When the team passes through
They do not hear the leaves underfoot,
Snapping like fossils—do they belong
To last season or a passing epoch? —
Though one, stopping to tie his shoe,
Sees a weeping bird embrace a solitary leaf
And weeps himself, as though remembering
A bittersweet moment from childhood
Before rushing off to join the others.