“Reality is that which, when you don’t believe in it, doesn’t go away”
—attributed to Peter Viereck
One gold hickory leaf
descends through an autumn day
until it’s caught between
damp grass and damper soil.
A droplet of water, small
as a wood tick and beginning
to evaporate in November’s sun—
think how the world’s reflected
there, miniaturized on the bellied surface.
Dew reconnects with air
and the scene disappears,
sky, trees, birdhouse, milkweed
disassembled by chemistry,
how real is that?
The low hills south of here
challenge me to look without gasping
at their radical spangle of red hues,
energy vibrating like mad between molecules:
I am riding the balloon of the world.
Carpeted with leaves, earth offers
oil deposits, coal, humus, peat,
one gold hickory leaf
I hold by its stem between
my thumb and forefinger. No,
I don’t believe in it, and
it doesn’t go away.