Poem: The Yellow Leaves of Spring

leaves 2

The Yellow Leaves of Spring

It is a strange kind of spring,
autumn leaves, the stragglers and survivors
that clung to the white-clad birches all winter,
have let loose, their yellow leaves a carpet
covering the April grass and its greening.

Typical of New England, there is no continuity of weather.
One day the sun warms your skin like a lover’s touch,
and next day is cold and snowy, cutting like betrayal.

It is a season of plague and quarantine,
a cruel joke, making us all prisoners of fear,
like birch leaves, hanging on, clinging
until the season changes.

I am not a worrier.
I was cured of worry, I believed, a decade and a half ago,
surviving more than I believed I could then,
nothing now seems as consequential.
but I worry now.

I worry for the children,
mine and the ones that surround me.
I worry for the doctors and nurses,
for the people who stock my stores at night,
for the myriad of people I know
who have built their livelihoods,
suddenly fragile, unexpected deaths to the plague.
I worry for the poor. I know too many of them
for them to be an abstraction. No care, no money,
what little life they have crumbles.
I worry about the loud ones, the deniers
and all they touch, proud carriers of disease.
What will become of them?
I worry for the elderly, huddled, too often
already victims of loneliness,
a new vulnerability suddenly added to the frailness of age.
I worry about…. the list is too long.
I pray, but the list is too long, too easy
to leave someone loved out,
until at last I cry out to God in a great groan
that says more than my words,
and I lean into him, knowing he knows,
more than I, the loss and fear and need
for comfort and strength beyond what I have.

I walk across the yellow leaves of spring.
Freshly stripped off the trees in yesterday’s rain,
they are supple and a thing of beauty.
But this will not last. In a few days they will dry
and turn brown, and fall to dust beneath my feet,
no longer survivors, but victims and all that is left to me
is prayer and the power to remember their beauty
and share it, long after they are gone.


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