Fallen tree leaves, mostly yellow

Two Poems by Catherine Stearns

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Gathering Leaves in a Pandemic

Alone, or in clumps under the trees,
they embrace our wanton mash-ups:
a car chassis wallowing in a yard,
attractive nuisance ladders angled
toward a repurposed church, condom
wrappers under a last bright dahlia.
We choose the prettiest ones at first,
absolute hues, as if year after year
we would come to this day without
holes or spots, leaf gall, leaf rot
or white blight, as if we would not
be spent by our losses before
a western sky ditches the gold
for the good old humus of earth.




Where does it come from,
what we imagine? You,

little zygote, direct and actual link
blooming in all directions—

you too will root around
for brighter light. I picture you

now in a single brushstroke
head, neck, shoulders

precise, adjusting, unrestrained
hatching of a hiddenmost heart

with a burst of beats always new
and a murmuration of echoes.

Already you form layers
of deeper and nearer pasts,

weaving relations like the folds
of a dress, like imbricated roof tiles,

like fossils coinciding
with different species of birds.

Little goose, little dove
holed up inside, what do you know

of unconsoling history?
Yesterday’s snow overflows the ground

leveling us by its scale of need.
And yet, you come. You,

who flower from within
like memory, like a mind

feeling its way as though blind.
Like purple-blue morning glories

pouring over, under and through.
We can peg the stems in falls of sun

or rain—I’ll show you—
any given earth will do.


        With a quote from Marianne Moore’s “The Mind is an Enchanting Thing.”





Catherine StearnsCatherine Stearns’s chapbook Then & Again was published recently by Slate Roof Press. Her poems have appeared in The Yale Review, Southwest Review, New Ohio Review, CALYX, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere.

Header photo by Trevor M, courtesy Pixabay.

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