Life in the Leaves

When the fire I’ve lit in my porch fireplace dwindles, the logs charred and bitten with orange embers, I scoop up huge handfuls of rustling leaves and toss them in over the cinders. Almost instantly they ignite, bursting into brilliant orange flames, a crackling, snapping conflagration that exults in the black sky. This is not a sad end for these leaves, which less than two weeks ago held their own flame, bright embers falling from great heights. Instead, it is a brilliant culmination, for each spread star explodes yellow and crimson, recalling its past, before it blackens. On the blackened surface, each vein transmits orange lightening to the tips; serrated edges delicately glow, rimming the supernova in fire. When even the lightening fades, the leaf shape remains as black ash, impossibly fragile yet intact, transfigured leaf identity. A single breath of wind, curled in tongues of fire, dissolves with a touch its solid substance and lifts the ash upward. My spirit follows.

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