Jan 16, 2011

Leaves across the road


I found this little poem, little string of thoughts, on the blog of my friend, Jo Lightfoot, the Everyday Poet. And instantly, I was reminded of an incident that I experience every year.

Nothing can halt its coming. No one can change the sadness it brings. Sadness that begins with a down-turned lip and prickly tears that are quickly blinked away. Time and repetition does not lessen its impact.

I live with leaves, with brown and black, with rosy, yellow, and white. Occasionally I am pleased to find a red one in the bunch, but they are quiet and sometimes hidden by their subtle coloring. All year long, I search among the leaves to find the secrets they possess. The golden essence of life and knowledge, of love and ambition. By early spring, I am recognizing the layers on layers of their beings.

      As I write, my characters are like leaves. Their colors and   shapes are waiting for me find the painting to which they belong. I suspect it’s going to be one I’ve loved for a lifetime, perhaps, something like Autumn Leaves by Georgia O’Keeffe. But my characters, like ordinary leaves, begin to take on individual personalities, and by midnight, I am typing as fast as I can, like running down hill and you can’t stop.
My daily leaves are my science students with all their disguises, fears, and desires. By this time each year, they are blooming, pulling out of the mass of fallen colors and beginning to march the halls with their own pace and style. They are the finest characters who ever tripped across a page of anything we’ve written.

Then it happens. Like throbbing colors of leaves fade from red and orange and yellow and rust to grey, my carefully trained students begin crumbling. They aren’t actually going to follow every rule, nor are they planning to go in the directions I aim them. Suddenly the day will come and my roomful of leaves, my handful of autumn, will rush through the door, carried by a strong gust of wind, and school will be out for summer. They’ll be gone and the building will fall silent and hollow. With my heart aching, I’ll let the covers of my laptop fall silently together. Being finished, even with a draft in need of more loving care, is a blessing.