One by One They Fall
One by one they fall, the leaves, one by one.
The sugar maples first, then, by the back door
to the old garage, our red-berry-sour
kousa dogwood aflame in the setting sun.
And now those damson lilacs along the road
and, look, our new dawn redwood, where our
catalpa all those years we’ve lived here stood.
And, yes, the cherry apples and the shad...
Here, now, the furled leaves bid adieu
as they slip silently from the dappled branches
of our copper beech again, as if on cue,
dropping day and night one by one. Take
in their beige silk-crisp texture as each unlatches
and the rising wind twists them in mini avalanches
and rest among the hollyhocks. And hostas too.
Then think how in time those branches will shake
their way to bud and leaf again come spring.
Call it the silent language of our stalwart trees
that stay rooted there through drought and freez-
ing storms, signing their years with ring on ring.
Why is it that we find ourselves coming back and back
to them? What is it these gentle giants have to say?
Where would we be without them, our world lack-
ing leaves, like words gone silent as they lose their way.