Sophia lifts the leaves above her head,
then lets them fall to earth a second time.
She knows, but is not sorry they are dead.
Far away, the silver church bells chime,
even though it's Tuesday afternoon,
for mourners. But her laughter is a charm
against the haunted mind, the daylight moon
looming in the sky. She means no harm,
so when she asks if I could bury her,
I can't say no. I build the pile high,
then under all those quiet leaves, I hear
a staggering breath as she begins to cry.
I whisk her out. It was so dark inside
all the colors, and I couldn't see—.
What to tell the girl? I can't decide,
and so I simply hold her close to me.
But now I realize what I should have told her:
Darkness is the least we have to fear,
and soon, Sophia, as your heart grows older,
as autumn leads to winter, year to year,
when empty branches whinny and crash, when wind
wails hard against the houses, cold and violent,
hurling the leaves in helpless arcs—you'll find
your mother's reflection in the window, silent,
and before your eyes, the dark will close again,
on you alone. You'll want to reminisce,
but as the windows rattle with the train,
you won't know what to think of.
So think of this:
How even as you cried, you were lifted out,
and how the weight above you was so light—
how even though your whimper wasn't loud,
I heard you; how the leaves were still so bright,
even though they seemed so dark to you—
and remember how you left my arms to play,
how soon you forgot your fear, as children do.
Then lift the leaves, and let them fall away.