See how beautiful the billion leaves
when limbs that sent them life
have ceased their vital flow?
the high priest of this autumn rite,
shines on no pallid corpse,
for Nature’s lethal alchemy
turned green to yellow, orange and red.
Now watch a solitary leaf let go its limb
and one time source of life
then rock to and fro in slow descent
until it rests on Earth
from where its life once sprung
to lie with countless others
in the fall communal wake.
Soon worms and mites have at the lovely corpse;
a million organisms parse its frame
and turn it fine and dark to join the forest’s floor.
Perhaps from there our one time leaf
—still disciple to Earth’s procreant creed—
will rise in time in vestments green or brown
and join again the sylvan host.