Reading the Night

She can’t hear them falling,
the leaves, the middle-of-the-night
falling leaves—
the oaks, the maples, the liquidambars—
as, sleepless, she reads
30 or 40 or 100 pages of some
new novel she’ll remember none of

come next read,

but a low faroff sound—
not leaves, not fox, not coyote—
pulls her for a moment and she sees
one perfect leafhand swirling
through an October window and settling
on the O-mouth of an old man,
book tenting on his chest
and the leaf not moving,
slowly reddening there,
drying and shrinking there

for days, and during the next
middle-of-the-night wide-awake time,
she’ll leaf through her book, searching
for the old man, for the perfect
red leaf.

Judy Brackett
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