Editor’s Note: This piece was offered by Austin Persons. He wrote this in the last fall, with a sense of grief over what has been lost in the natural world.
By Austin Persons
In this time of transitions deciduous forests glow, rustling softly on the breeze. Leaves, having fed their trees since spring, drift poetically to Earth. They wish to protect the ground which sustains their community, to merge with the infinite in the second half of their lives as leaves.
In the way of November forests, I release ideas that sustain me. They long to be shared, to keep growing, to return to all that made them possible, to take deep purpose in becoming—new forms of action and matter—in the second half of their lives as ideas. From my swaying limbs I shed gratitude and love. Like sunlight and water united, they enlarged my outwardly reaching heart with a new ring of growth. Landing thick now like a blanket over the Earth, love and gratitude embrace the rich humus from which they were born; to protect, to become, and to sustain future generations. And I glow – brilliant red and gold, brown and green against the blue sky. Lines of distinction blur. I am a colorblind rainbow rustling in the soft afternoon breeze, contemplating the coming seasons, imagining new ways of being and becoming.
In the way of November leaves, my thoughts dance through the sky and flutter across the ground searching for purpose, that place where they alone can fit; in the embrace of kin on the slow journey back to the Source. Leaves and thoughts, one and the same, scrape over the homogenous landscape of progress. They mourn. They want nothing more than to cover these forsaken places thickly under a blanket of love, but it is hard to settle on concrete and asphalt. They shudder at the thought of being swept up, bagged and buried in a landfill; discarded, rendered purposeless among countless precious gifts from our Mother. So they keep moving, grieving the loss of timeless living legends, irreplaceable works of art – sacrificed without cause for someone’s short-sighted delusions of wealth.
I wonder what messages these leaves carry, where they will settle, and how they will council once all have arrived. Could the wild leaves understand what they had never seen, could the civilized leaves see beyond what they had always known? My wild and civilized thoughts wrestle when they meet, they hardly speak the same language. Their greatest desire, however, is to find common ground; a place worth settling, a reason to decay into something greater than one among kin of every shape and color. I wonder if it is not so among the falling leaves.
I find myself grieving, searching along with the leaves, wondering whether I will be able to fulfill my duties or be rendered purposeless; buried in a heap of waste that once was wealth.
Like time, leaves and thoughts circle; narrowly, broadly, remembering, forgetting, creating, destroying, uniting darkness and light. White expands across the spectrum of possibility through the prism of thought, I search for answers on the margins of perception.
I ask the wind to carry my love and gratitude to Life, to the Ancestors, along with a plea for help. I tell them of the crusades against their legacy, of violence against present and future generations perpetrated by those who claim to be our leaders. I beg the Ancestors on behalf of Life to intervene. Whisper in our ears, show us visions when we close our eyes, guide us down the faintest of paths in the dimmest of light. Help us remember our place, and to know the way there. For I want to honestly embrace Life—long and warm—look deeply into her eyes and say without speaking: I promise to love you forever.
As a swift gust of wind paints the evening sky, the forest erupts with song and dance.