The leaves of the liquidamber tree flame into orange and red,
glowing in the hot light of Indian summer.
Even now a strong breeze can pull off
those that are ready to release their hold
or that the tree is prepared to relinquish.
Without pain or sorrow the leaf lets go
and floats into a current of air,
a wanderer now after a lifetime of vowed stability
with one tree in one place.
The new gypsy may know, but doesn’t care
that this grand adventure will end with a crumbling into mulch,
for the gift of the autumn wind is liberation,
and the songs of spring are just a sweet memory.
The bereft trees will stand naked
and this is why they never forget who they really are.
The annual stripping of all finery
reduces each to its pure form,
and in this integrity
they offer their bare branches to the long winter night.