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oh, but that leaf

just look at it, he demanded.

look at how red it is

a red that I don't know how to describe

like blood, clotted angry blood

mixed with rust and slices of overripe mango

and forgotten oranges

and summer paintings that had gone dry.

I try

to see what he sees

this exquisite beauty

as if made only for him and him alone

he stands on his tiptoes

as if wishing to grow,

just to touch it.

Do you see?

He wants me to see.

But all I see is the end of summer

changes in my life,

the schedules I am tied to,

the things I'm failing at but still trying,

death and dying

the end of things

instead of that one beautiful leaf

waiting to burn its color onto my troubled mind.

and that is really what we lose

when we leave our childhood behind.

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