I Like to Tuck a Leaf

of some bright hue, say burgundy mauve,
by example, and it doesn’t have to be

perfect—an insect gall or two being fine,
one on the top, another on the underside,

about half a peppercorn’s size, maybe,
and I go placing it into a book—

thinking very little, not bookmark, really,
or “note this page,” just wanting to keep

it flat, hating the sight of a curled leaf
and how it turns to a cornflake and starts

cracking. It’s a way of giving a random
day in the future a little fall

frisson—I walked through the grass,
scuffled my feet against the litter

of trees, breathing deeply of moist
mulchy air, drawing it into my lungs,

and finally bending down for this one democratic
shape—a red oak, lobes that come

to points. The whole year just about burned
to seed—my sister dead, his mother—

and the best to be said is, I learned the shape
of a red oak leaf distinct from white,

enfolding it in the pages of a book, o future
life and days, that I may still draw breath.

 

 

Patricia Clark is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Canopy. She also has a new chapbook called Deadlifts that features elegies of Patricia Clarks around the country and abroad, forthcoming in 2018 from New Michigan Press.

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