We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
When all the leaves fell
the wasp nest hung in its gray paper,
bobbing in the empty air
When all the autumn leaves fell
it was like the trees pitched their trash
on the ground; the trees
When all the colored leaves fell off their branches
I saw a man
hobbling through the changing piles of leaves.
The wind accumulated some
then re-mixed the leaves;
the colors a re-mix
When the leaves fell singly down
each leaf lay face-down on the sidewalk
and left its final exhale there. Each leaf
left a leaf-print, it left a chalk outline,
signature: I was here, Leaf
When the leaves all fell at once
I saw a rat in the mid-afternoon. He stood shaking
on the open lawn. His whiskers trembled and his body
trembled. What’s happening to me, ideal
blue day, patch of sunlight on the lawn stuck
with fallen leaves—
A rusted boat hull overturned by the dock
Canada geese nipping up the frayed ends of drying grasses
Bells that carry farther in the air
A tarnished wedding ring bought at a street carnival
When the leaves piled on the ground
plastic bags blew like banners
in the bare, black branches, waylaid
When the leaves got puked onto the ground
I saw a beer bottle wedged hard
onto a branch.
I saw a bumblebee nearly motionless
on a blasted marigold. He was
waiting for some fold to overtake the stilled
glass windows of his wings—Here I will rest—
A rabbit who was once nearby that fire bush
A rabbit who once leapt down the hillside as I approached
A rabbit who once, nearly invisible in the shadow of that sculpted topiary—
A tiny rabbit once at the edge of the underbrush
A tiny rabbit who once pulled down a stem of grass taller than himself
All the invisible rabbits are there now
where once a rabbit was
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
“Never do unto me what your uncle has done to us.” A family member’s disappearance leads to personal revelations.
Critics say human rights discourse blunts social transformation. It doesn’t have to.
“My mother has not slept for seven days.” A Taiwanese woman’s brother avoids calling their mother, setting off an insomniac unraveling.