by Pony Tale
This is me yesterday, today, and tomorrow
|AGAINST THE FENCE
October 29, 2007
I have plenty of time to think these days, and to reminisce about yesterday; to remember where I had come from and the way it used to be.
I can still see the tree in my mind as though it were right in front of me. I see every
detail. I can feel the rough bark against my palms the way it felt when I was young.
The tree was/is/always will be at the summit of a great mountain overlooking the world below with its branches, like arms, encompassing all of life from horizon to horizon. It stretches up and out and away with every twig, every stick, in all directions, and reaches to the sky, and on every limb there are the leaves.
The leaves were/are/always will be budding and growing, blossoming and changing. They twist and slap in the fierce spring storms while thundering nimbi shake their wooden webs and tear across the mountain while the rain spits through their boughs. The leaves hold on for dear life, for in the summer they are young and they are strong.
All too soon the baby greens begin to darken as they fill with the chlorophyll they suck from the ground through the huge trunk-straws. Darker, stronger, they hang in crowds on every branch, chatting to the summer winds, swinging in their sunny branches, sparkling in the early dew. They are supple; durable; invincible. They can cling forever day to day, night after night, gale upon gale.
Or so they believe.
Then autumn exhales a whole year of pent-up fury. It plugs the straw and drains the tree and wakens every summer-struck leaf, taking them by surprise, scaring them into shouts of brittle russets, friable irons, crackling carmines, and for the first time in their two-seasoned lives, the leaves shiver, concerned for their salubrity.
Frost bites at the tip of each branch. Winds pluck at their leaves like strings and soon they can't take it any more; their strength is gone and like the spotted backs of an old lady's hands, they quiver; tremble, and finally let go.
One-by-one, or two-by-two, soon by the handfuls, then by the bushelsful, they drop to the hard, cold winter-ready ground. Once airborne, they've lost all control. Now at the mercy of the impending brumal wind, their destiny is sealed.
Swirling, end over end, above cottonwooded canyons, over blackberry bushes, window wells, and flower boxes, across trails where sorrels once picked Granny Smiths, where coyotes wept at night, and campfires blazed as they sacrificed their lives to a croaking, twinkling night, the leaves scurry on to meet their inevitable, inexorable fate.
Now, as I said, I have plenty of time to think back on those days. I can still recall that fateful night; the moon was full. The tree towered against its bright sphere as I clung, the last leaf of the season, to the branch which bore me; fed and nourished me, protected and housed me all my life.
Then, without warning, in one sudden rush, I was swept up like a whitecap on the ocean, and hurled into the sky. Blown, an old grey and wrinkled body, canyoned by time, creased by age, made fragile by the years, I landed broken and useless where every leaf eventually lands; waiting for the winter, caught trembling and shaking against the fence.
Would you expect me to envy those verdant new leaves that now cling to that same tree in the spring of their lives? To be in my place, sucking on chlorophyll, swinging over the trails I once held so dear and swaying cheerfully in the meadows of their dreams? Would you be surprised if I said no?
One day those callow fronds will come to the end of their autumn too, for the clove of seasons awaits each and every one of us. One day, much sooner than any would suspect, they, too, will find themselves with nothing but time to think; to reminisce about yesterday; to remember where they had come from and the way it was, waiting for the inevitable winter, caught trembling and shaking against the fence.