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Leaf by Seán Hewitt


My caladium plant sheds its leaves as fast as it grows them. The morning a new one unfurls, another bows down the same afternoon. Each day like that: living and dying. I suppose it’s how it is for us, too. But how much do we notice, I wonder.

What is the weight of grief. Is it that of a brittle leaf curled unto itself, almost like a fist.

What can I hold in the palm of my hand. I scoop more soil onto the pot, whispering, don’t die on me, don’t you dare.

Seán Hewitt

For woods are forms of grief
grown from the earth. For they creak
with the weight of it.
For each tree is an altar to time.
For the oak, whose every knot
guards a hushed cymbal of water.
For how the silver water holds
the heavens in its eye.
For the axletree of heaven
and the sleeping coil of wind
and the moon keeping watch.
For how each leaf traps light as it falls.
For even in the nighttime of life
it is worth living, just to hold it.

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This poem appeared in Tongues of Fire by Seán Hewitt, published by JonathanCape/Vintage Books, 2020. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Seán HewittFind books by this poet • Or view my library 

Explore poems in pursuit of: naturelivinggrief • Or browse the index


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Leaf by Seán Hewitt


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