I wrote this poem near the end of January of 2010 on a sudden impulse, following a walk around campus in which I stepped on a fallen leaf. Yes, it was written in January even though it’s about autumn. I’ve never thought fidelity to real-life experience was that important in poetry. The poem itself is a Petrarchan sonnet, inspired by those of Gerard Manley Hopkins which I studied last semester in Junior Poet (and in fact the phrase “Day of wrath!:” is a reference to “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves”). The rhyme scheme is ABBAABBA CBCBCB, as required, though I admit that on the Bs I do rhyme “tree” with both “bleed” and “leaf.” Petrarchan sonnets are hard to do effectively. I’m fairly happy with it, though, even if it is rather dark in tone.
A leaf fell on the ground (upon the path)
. down from the branches of some tree (a tree
. not tall, not majestic, a leaf not bleed-
ing red, nor vermilion, just brown). With math-
ematical precision, the veins (with
. mundane accuracy, the veins) agree
. with one another, not one other leaf
echoes its content (structure). Day of wrath!:
Darkness falls (my black boot falls) an har-
. binger (a cause) of doom, and no more leaf
But dust devoid of structure (content). Far
. as eye can see (as ear can hear) debris
Of fallen leaves, and leaves upon the yard.
. But now one less, a death (a tragedy).