A Spectacle of Decay

The backyard, a spectacle of decay. Today has brought a strong wind to shake this familiar yet ever-changing scene. It rattles the window, bends the branches, causes chaotic waves through the fluttering sea of dry leaves upon the ground.

I try to focus on one leaf—this is me. The wind blows, & I am sent rolling over the crests of the currents. Which way is up? Which way is down? For a brief second, I am caught on a broken twig. It is then I see my brothers & sisters are all around me, tumbling about in the same way. Like a light turned on, the chaos is now a dance; we are all part of something much bigger, which we participate in but is beyond our control. The air finally settles & takes a moment to fill its lungs again for the next hearty gust. Meanwhile, its shorter, restorative breaths rock me back & forth. They lift me, just enough to give me hope of flying but not enough to allow such a thrill to come again so soon. So I wait patiently, this time ready to let the wind take me back into the beautiful tumult with peace & acceptance in my veins.

I ponder my life through the eyes of this leaf for another moment before, suddenly, the leaf next to it catches my eye. It still has, under its speckled skin, some of the yellows & oranges of its glory days, bright as a flame, nesting in its home tree. It’s larger & more intact than some of the others—this is also me, how I was before I, too, became a victim of circumstance, fell into decay. I have seen the fate of this leaf, & it makes my heart ache for my own.

I look up to the treetops & hope to see a leaf that has not yet succumbed to the plague of the season. Alas, I found none. Au contraire, I find a fate worse than that of those on the ground; on the treetops I find leaves that refused to let go & embrace their inevitable return to the earth. Those leaves are blackened & shriveled. They will eventually fall off—yes, they all do, no matter how tightly they cling to life—yet they will never know the feeling of flying. They will fall into the fluttering sea like pebbles, crumble upon the waves like ash.

The sky seems to darken. I turn away from the window, fold back into the curves & corners of the house. In my chair, with my book in hand, I sway with the sifting sound of the wind, as if it can still reach me through the solid walls, as if it could, at any moment, still stir up my heart in a way that would make me fly.


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