In a gentle winter rain,
With droplets on my brow,
I walked without purpose
In my pace.
Beneath my feet,
The path on which I walked
Was littered with a myriad
Of miniature lakes,
Each owing its existence, its form,
To countless imperfections
Too small, too subtle
To take notice of the mason’s trowel.
Why the moment,
Was sad I cannot say,
For cause was wanting—
There’s something mystical about melancholy
That does not reveal its need for existence,
Either to the evolution of the soul
Or in Darwin’s elegant theory of survival.
Perhaps it was melancholy,
Perhaps mere coincidence,
Or, perhaps, the inexplicable whim of velleity
That compelled me in an instant to stop
And gaze, face upward into the mist,
At the pinnacle of a barren tree
That had spread its mighty limbs
And naked branches across my path.
With the moon as a klieg
I was there able to see
What seemed at first
As the outline of a darkened flame
Whose light had been masked
By the overpowering brilliance of Sol
Reflected, as it were,
In the mirror that is the moon
In full bloom on this early-winter’s eve.
Clearing the mist from my eyes
With a blink and a swipe from my sleeve
I furrowed my brow
To plainly see
Neither a flame nor a mirage,
But a proud, solitary leaf
That had patiently waited
For this moment in time to take flight.
With the grace of an Olympian diver,
And the style of a showman,
The leaf scythed majestically downward
In the slowest of slow motion,
As if savoring the moment
For the performance of a lifetime
While granting me alone
The privilege to serve as its audience.
Moved as I was at this sight,
A tear, then two, fell from my eye
Instantly mingling with the water
That now buoyed the leaf
As the leaf too had buoyed my spirit.
Many years have now passed
And I have moved on.
But in my mind I often return
To that path, that spot,
That rainy winter night,
And marvel that nothing more
Than a mere leaf
Could so completely, so profoundly
Influence the course of my life.
— Lon Roberts