Heartwood

By Esther Kang

By Esther Kang

Leaves
Gently dance in fall.
Red, brown, purple, orange, and gold.
Regal, Majestic, Noble.

A beautiful downward tumble
Whirling and swirling
They’ve never felt the cool earth before.
Excited to go down, down, down for the first time
On a magical rollercoaster ride.

Only to realize
That
That
This is the end.
To be trampled on
Or scooped up by the next plastic rake.

Tragic beauty.
It would’ve been nice
To stay attached for the cold winter
But it cost too much for the worn-out tree
In fear of the starving nights.
Love was a limited quantity

The leaves didn’t know
The tree waved a forever goodbye
On that last strong breeze.
As the leaves left
The tree let out a sigh.

I am just a tiny green leaf.
I’ve struggled a while
Staring at the buds, the blossoms, and the Fruit
But I don’t want to rot.
Too sickly sweet of a demise.

So I’ll just stay here
Stuck to the twig
The twig stuck to the branch
The branch stuck to the trunk

Ridges of dark bark protect the heartwood inside.
Invaluable and omnipotent.

To have stood there forever.
A little wiser, a little taller
With each passing day,
Month, Year, Century, Era,
Eternity.

Radial strength.
Vertical boldness.

Circulating grace
Love abounding
I’m glad this everlasting tree wanted me
To cling to it
Forever.
Irreplaceable.

We leaves
Gently dance
While hanging onto this tree
In the neverending warmth of the sun
Of an endless summer.

I glow.
I don’t need to know
How it feels to crash into the ground.
I can keep looking up

Happily green.