Acer Macrophyllum

Photo by Tatiana Myshienko

The moment of detachment,
petiole from stem, goes unnoticed
on a lofty bough
or in a foliage cluster,
whispered flurries of farewells,
things left unsaid:
seasons well-lived, a cycle
unbroken, an ending

On a crystal blue backdrop
in klieg-light sun, the descent commences.
Lift and drag of the five-lobed leaf
slow the spiraling speed to sway
right, now left
gentle twirl up then down
quick left, quick right
to the ground.

The boy, working his bubble gum
while poised to catch a high-tossed ball
spots something worthy on the periphery
sailing to a landing
next to the massive maple.
His mother drags tired feet.
His interest piques hers.
This boy, never lacking in untimely exuberance
is drawn.

She sees what is ahead of her.
Shivers startle her spine.
Even a reluctant mother knows
the value of one leaf, saved;
and the color, iridescent butter,
tips dipped in burnt orange
cherry red veins and stem.

The boy’s steps quicken to the find,
like a leaf’s Autumn signal to turn.
He cradles the specimen
in his catcher’s glove.
It might be worth saving.

Linda Phillips

Linda Phillips has published two young adult novels in verse, Crazy (Eerdmans, 2014) and Behind These Hands (Light Messages, 2018). Her poems for adults and children have appeared in The Texas Review, California Quarterly, Wellspring, Main Street Rag, Independence Boulevard, and Windhover. She lives in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband.

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