note card with brown leaf and red bow attached

A NEW CIRCLE OF LIFE FOR A LEAF

The Green Shoes   10 Nov 2021   Poetry

BY ELIZABETH REED

I pick up the orange and red maple leaf lying on top of a troupe of former dancers, leaves that have arabesqued and pirouetted their way to earth. The leaf is still soft, no crisp edges, no brittle stem. I slide it into my pocketbook, flat against the side. At home, I will place the leaf between the pages of my thick Webster’s dictionary, the one with the cracked spine and unraveling binding—a leaf among leaves, a newborn wrapped in its ancestors who will towel dry their new baby. Weeks later I’ll dip that leaf, wearing only its autumn colors, into a soothing bath of hot wax that outlines the veins that meld nature with art. I will lay my newly robed dancer on a sheet of shiny aluminum foil, a mirror to stretch against and to absorb its new coating for the next performance. Then I will glue that leaf onto a blank ivory note card, another branch of relatives, and I’ll send that card, carrying condolences to friends who have wrapped their loved ones and laid them among their ancestors.

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