Patricia Clark

I Like to Tuck a Leaf
November 26, 2017 Clark Patricia

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 six volumes of poetry, including Sunday Rising, The Canopy and most recently Self Portrait with a Million Dollars. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Gettysburg Review, Poetry, Plume, and Slate, among others. She received the 2018 Book of the Year Award from Poetry Society of Virginia for The Canopy. Her new book, her seventh, O Lucky Day is forthcoming in January 2025 from Madville Publishing.