Slanting light casts onto a stucco wall the shadows of upwardly zigzagging plum branches. I can see the thinning of branches to the very twig. I have to sift what you say, what she thinks, what he believes is genetic strength, what they agree is inevitable. I have to sift this quirky and lashing stillness of form to see myself, even as I see laid out on a table for Death an assortment of pomegranates and gourds. And what if Death eats a few pomegranate seeds? Does it insure a few years of pungent spring? I see one gourd, yellow from midsection to top and zucchini-green lower down, but already the big orange gourd is gnawed black. I have no idea why the one survives the killing nights. I have to sift what you said, what I felt, what you hoped, what I knew. I have to sift death as the stark light sifts the branches of the plum.
Arthur Sze - 1950-
The Shapes of Leaves
Ginkgo, cottonwood, pin oak, sweet gum, tulip tree: our emotions resemble leaves and alive to their shapes we are nourished. Have you felt the expanse and contours of grief along the edges of a big Norway maple? Have you winced at the orange flare searing the curves of a curling dogwood? I have seen from the air logged islands, each with a network of branching gravel roads, and felt a moment of pure anger, aspen gold. I have seen sandhill cranes moving in an open field, a single white whooping crane in the flock. And I have traveled along the contours of leaves that have no name. Here where the air is wet and the light is cool, I feel what others are thinking and do not speak, I know pleasure in the veins of a sugar maple, I am living at the edge of a new leaf.