Leaves have fallen, scattered
Compressed under the cold weight
Of November rains. This frigid
House feels vacant, save the mildly acrid
Plume of smoke rising timidly,
Unfurling haplessly from
My solitary cigarette. The wine –
It’s a Shiraz from Argentina –
Is cooler than permits full flavor,
But its dulling effects are manifest
No less; it answers quickly
What prayers regard unworthy of association.
Oh Christ, or saints, or angels! What is faith
In your unapparent patronage
But to alter an attitude toward
Trusting fate? This tree
Gave nothing freely. It fell asleep.
Praised nothing. Her leaves gave up
Trying to hold on to life,
Shriveled under lifeless atoms – by
Chance or design, it doesn’t matter –
Two to one that as one make them water,
Lifeless, pressing them down
To deteriorate into more of the same.
She trusted nothing – it was never necessary –
This tree. Granted, I am no tree:
But is my trust any more
Than her forced resignation
Imagined nobler by complex chemistries
Seeking balance within the dense matter
Crammed inside this skull?
I may choose it, yes (it seems).
But may choose as much as anything
That changes nothing in reality
Save perspective – a thing a tree
Can’t have, and suffers nothing by.
A few sips more, another cigarette,
And I’ll about to bed.
Would that I could sleep this long winter,
Unconscious of cold hearts, and wake
To brim with hope,
To have another go at something beautiful
That isn’t blackened, burdened by
Perpetual admonition of that crucifix –
The impossible demand to die to self,
And yet to will to be,
And exercise the will decisively –
Unlike this tree or her hapless leaves
Which, pressed into the ground,
Knowing no better, offer better praise
To “Being” by being without a will to,
And ceasing just the same.