November mists rose from the mountains
but already had come and gone from the grass
leaving its frosty footprints on the lawn
for me to follow as I left my own.
My thoughts wander with the leaves,
skittering, blown, and trodden,
one day to be raked,
then compost piled
(or just posted and compiled,
it’s really all the same)
then packed or hauled away
earth, then plants, then food
Two little girls went out for a walk
in the chilly autumn air,
and they gathered handfuls of leaves as they talked,
and the leaves were as gold as their hair.
They followed the path that cut through the park
and wound with a slow little creek.
They never minded the frost on the bark
or the cold wind that bit at their cheeks.
They fed the ducks leaves from the withering trees,
but the ducks didn’t seem to care
I said with a sigh that ducks didn’t eat leaves,
but the girls only wanted to share.
I measure myself in lines of poetry,
and some seasons I don’t amount to much.
If poems were leaves and I a tree,
I’d be a sorry, patchy thing,
full of bursting, sun-bleached buds
with a dry pile ready for the fire at my feet.
And a passer-by might ask himself
(or another with whom he wandered the yard)
if this blasted thing were a tree at all
or something only trying to be;
and should they cut me down and count my rings
they’d find me older than some sprouting trees
that blossom always in the early spring—
but though my rings be many and my leaves be few,
I mean to see this winter through.