35

lampleaves

There’s a tree on my walk from the garage to my office. A spindly, landscape piece beneath an old-fashioned streetlamp. I noticed her, really, for the first time (three years I’ve made this walk) in her nakedness, all the more stripped and stark and skeletal for the maybe-dozen leaves left clinging to her, some of them tilted up, reaching instead of falling. I stopped. I took a picture. I watched her, a fixed point on the horizon, each morning as I walked to work. The maybe-dozen dwindled from Thanksgiving break until the day before my birthday when, suddenly—why was I surprised?—she was finally, truly, bare. Without even the lone, final leaf on the tip of the highest-reaching branch, the leaf closest to the lamp, the leaf tricked the longest by artificial light to hang on past her time. Stubborn? Bold? A dreamer? A fool? But why moralize a leaf? She was beautiful. When she hung on. When she fell. In the most fundamental, living sense. She and her sisters and her mother insisted I live this season, the unfolding change around us. With them, I remembered. I clung. I dreamed. I let go. I turned another year.