we used to tack maple leaves to white walls
when autumn breezes lay down around
we'd string them up in candied ropes
and perch dead leaves high, as summer's kings.
the golden hands littered my carpets
they were punctured first, right at the wrists
and molted skin would cascade from wounds
before a cold blade was shoved through;
and then the leaf would come to hang
flat against my bedroom door
but the knuckles would always swerve and duck
and paint the frame with cracking brushes.
but i never knew:
was it waving to me?
was it warding me off?
or was it simply dead, hanging suspended and
dripping rust color into my entrance:
nature's little crucifixion?
walking outside, i was afraid of the leaves
for they looked like corpses;
veins, sleeves, prongs like naked legs---mangled and broken
the dead bodies were pushed into piles
and then raked askew
they shriveled and compacted to the frozen ground
they blackened and burned with the rawness of cold:
leaf corpses were gone by winter.
but not my leaf,
for it hangs still
occasionally outstretches a finger
the color has seeped from the delicate veins
and now it is
dying, but, unlike most
it cannot be freed.