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Uncle Martin’s Leaves

by J. M. McBirnie


Uncle Martin never touched the falling delicates:

remnants of the sheltered children of Connecticut

who trapeze on hemlock boughs until their shiver starts

and leaf-peepers flood from cities into rural hearths.


Uncle Martin’s camera had no shutter speed or flash

as he incarnized the elm’s or alder’s dying branch.

What will all his elder brothers do when the time comes

for pitch death to dole his pictures to their wives and sons?

From those brittle leaves, we never heard their breaks or sighs

as my Uncle Martin crossed his fingers and state lines,

hoping that their blushing had begun and he’d attend

to the earth’s bedside to watch her cloak herself again.