Flitting, twirling, and fluttering are words used to describe what leaves do in a strong wind. But not only are these terms limited and worn from overuse, they’re a bit dainty. They could just as well describe a ballerina. By contrast, what happens to leaves in November is more violent: the ones still clinging to their branches undergo quite a thrashing.
Yet any alternative description I can muster is either too wordy or inaccurate: thin, dry wafers oscillating on threads (Wafers? that’s not right; oscillating? too grandiose.); medallions spinning and flashing (too clunky and metallic, though a little poetic); ripples baring their pale undersides at lightning speed (awfully wordy and more suggestive of water). But these are leaves I’m talking about! All my metaphors imply something other than leaves. Do you see the challenge here?
Writing creatively about wind in trees is hard. One could zoom out and take in the larger form, describing how a great tree sways: somnambulantly from side-to-side, as if dragged back-and-forth through water; bowing in obeisance to Aeolus, the keeper of the winds. (Bow is a good way to describe what a bough does in a strong wind—wink, wink.) One could toss about words like bluster and gale. But now we’re talking more about wind and less about leaves.
One could try and capture the sound, likening it to the hiss of a hundred streams, sustained in the undulating branches above. But there’s that recourse to water again. Or maybe a host of small pages flapping in the breeze. But do pages suggest leaves?
At forty-one, I’ve learned to write sentences. But what of those musicians whose brilliance shines before thirty? Those painters on whom greatness rests like a marble monument? Those poets who chart human consciousness, leaving lights on the path for our senseless feet?
I labor a line to death. I spool out and cast about, dabbling with different-colored baits; I let it rest, and then reel it in fast, mimicking the motions of life. But the monster is elusive–the opus, aging. She hides in the dark, beneath the log at the bottom of a book.
I’m sure I forgot something. Always do. This is happening. This has happened. This has happened!! I didn’t know this would be the day. As good a day as any, I suppose. But it’s like I always think when I hear of a fatal accident: they didn’t know that this was the day they would die. They just got ready for work like they always do. They had plans and loved ones. Plans for those loved ones, plans with those loved ones. But then I comfort myself–restore some equilibrium–by remembering that people just live, until they’re not. They’re conscious . . . of being conscious. No, not usually. It’s something else. Nobody thinks about dying, at least not in any sustained way. Maybe if they’re terminally ill, but even then, don’t we have a nagging optimism that things will work out in our favor? I do. We don’t want to be one of those who thinks, “That will not happen to me.” But we do, at least until something really floors us. Even then, though. As long as we’re still breathing, there’s hope, right? Anyway. Circular thinking. Enough.
Things to do. I have to break the news. I have to . . . “MOVE!! There was NO one behind me! WHY?!” . . . Don’t have to do it right away. Is this freedom? At least until the money runs out. Freedom for an afternoon. Interim between slaveries, what it amounts to.
I’m going to miss this turn on purpose. Good sense of direction. Has to cross a main road at some point. South. Traffic not bad yet. Afternoon fog. Odd.
* * *
Only one here . . . “Ice in the trees is melting. It keeps popping and crackling above me. I feel like it’s gonna crash on my head. Sounds like it’s raining, too, even though it’s not.” Better not hit ‘send.’ She’ll know I’m not at work.
* * *
No one here but me, the ghosts, and the deer. How strange for rain-sound to be quarantined in the woods. Isolated noise? Roosters–two of them–crowing a few acres away. Sun ignoring them. Rain patter on my right but not on my left. Stubborn fog, thickening here and thinning there, but not lifting. Horse-hooves on pavement. Other side of the hill. I am not alone.