‘Look at a Dry Leaf’
Trees are changing color on the South Common. The early reds, golds, rusts, and yellow-oranges in every variation multiply by the day. Green leaves still predominate, but won’t last more than a couple of more weeks. I walked the dog this morning in air that was colder than cool. This is a poem from my first full-length collection, “Strong Place,” published in 1984.—PM
Look at a Dry Leaf
A dry leaf is a physical map:
River beds are sap routes forking off a prime vein.
The underside’s not printed, but the face is a bright terrain
Or scaly parchment resembling earth cracked by drought.
In one quadrant of this chart, locate red hills;
Check another for tracks of golden birch following tributaries south.
Like old maps, leaves curl and flake.
Oak is smooth brown leather; wine skin of a maple buckles.
A year-old leaf pressed flat is a brittle dollar.
These small flags tell me: “Autumn. North. Good.”
—Paul Marion (c) 1984