Monday, November 18, 2019

The Quiet Seriousness of Marcescence

Crooked oaks refuse to shed.
They are not mammals or birds.
They are not mulling over

What to do. Their leaves hang on,
Their dead leaves, like our skin cells
Would if we never scraped them,

Only finally shoved off
The dead elements of us
With the youngest of their clones,

As the oaks will do come spring,
Also without decision
As we understand the term.

Why do dead oak leaves hang on,
When the pretty aspen leaves
Have long since thrown gold and gone?

There’s no philosophy here,
No moral to be pointed,
No helpful lesson to learn,

No manifesto,
No exact science,
No peroration.

This is poetry,
The quiet seriousness
Of marcescence, where the dead

Leaves hiss with the blowing snows
That should have started falling
Months and months ago.

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