‘Look At a Dry Leaf’


Web image courtesy of Wikimedia

I reached into the vault for a poem from this “time of the season.” —PM


Look At a Dry Leaf


A dry leaf is a physical map:

River beds are sap routes

Forking off the 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, from Strong Place: Poems ’74–’84