Something Underfoot

Such lively, crinkling leaves! So why insist
they’ve no substance left once they’ve been so dried,
that ghosts would have more breath, since ghosts resist
the prodding wind when they don’t want travel?
No substance? Deep rose or wet mustard’s
only light, not weight, and brown fades to gray,
but what then are these bunches slipping off
the steps, and why, when I come to the bridge
over the river of leaves, do I feel
spared a wading?
While autumn lasts, the sense
of tannins simmers up a lake of scents.
This at least will vanish without a blow,
but it’s called by memory, grasped—like ghosts,
who are free to play, weightlessly free:
freer, really; ghosts need no summons.

Gail Kathleen Jardine
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