S: The Last Amber Leaf Laurence Simner
FC: The Last Amber Leaf | Written and Illustrated by | Laurence Simner
1: For Sammy | my inspiration, my joy, my life
3: The last amber leaf on the knotted bough, wind-blown its stem could not hold. Released and unbound the draft did allow, for a flight through the night and the cold.
5: Around the deep folds in the bark of the oak, it wound around down, then away. A slithering fog wrapped the ground like a cloak, the summer growth worn out and gray.
7: Through towering wood that is now for naught, once a retreat from the sun. Now withered and splintered and falling to rot, ashen and barren and done.
9: Along a lane away from the trees, where a tangle of brambles grows, The leaf on a current of chilled night breeze, down a dark trail it goes.
11: Lining the path all twisted and bent, set memories where a village once stood. Broken down brick and crumbled cement, and splinters of structural wood.
13: For years long ago there was burgeoning life, young voices filling the air. Streets once the setting for fiddle and fife, each day was a joyous affair.
15: Look! There's a lad in a wintergreen vest, and a lass in blue crinoline grand. And a carefree young boy in his Sunday best, rolls a hoop with the stick in his hand.
17: A mother and daughter enjoying the coo of a baby in swaddling clothes, As the early light glistens on morning dew, through the window the new sun glows.
19: Each door welcomes friends across the threshold, to visit, to eat, to dance. While outside the wears of the merchants are sold, and taverns host games of chance.
21: Alive was the town, full were its years the light of life filled the day. But days grow short on the new frontier, over time the light faded away.
23: On the air once floated the colour of song, draped in a piano's fine lilt. Now silence is left to play the nightlong, in the village that darkness built.
25: Quietly vacant the streets have remained, save for the gathering moss. The absence of time cannot be explained, but true is the air of loss.
27: The last amber leaf through memories flew, weaving a course across time. Around an old cart painted once a bright blue, and up a church spire it climbed.
29: Then away from the village its journey did go, to a hilltop field of stones. Their chiseled forms row upon row upon row, together, yet each one alone.
31: Each stone a story of days long ago, with details smoothed by the years. Wrapped all around as ivy shrouds grow, like a ghost the leaf reappears.
33: Silent the last amber leaf alights, on the arc of a crumbling stone. Ended its flight through the cold of the night, no more through the village it's blown.
35: At rest is the leaf, in the land without souls, on the stone it lays quietly calm. Then slowly it lifts and gently it rolls, as if spun between finger and palm.
37: Oddly suspended the leaf revolves, ethereal eyes watch it turn. With each rotation its blade dissolves, its stem to the ground then returns.
38: A leaf on its own won't lift, turn and fall, at rest on the stone it should stay,
39: How then did the amber leaf move at all, a still air won't blow it away?
41: The sorrowful turn of the last amber leaf was indeed by a finger and thumb, Concealed by light, its gestures are brief, from out of the night it had come.
43: Aside the aged stone the solemn form set, its head hung in quiet repose. Then looking toward town, so not to forget, faint memories slowly arose.
45: Of men in their vests and ladies in gowns, a tip of the hat as they pass, The glimmer of sunlight that blankets the town, a warm breeze ripples the grass.
47: The figure looks down at the stone to its side, the words, a name and a date. With effort the writing becomes a guide, to the figure's eventual fate.
48: Not easily read in the dim of the night, the story a challenge to bear. Etching in stone brings the truth to light, the epitaph words declare;
49: â€œFor now at an end is Charles McCray his time on this land is through, Loved once and for all of his living days, though sadly his days were few.â€
51: Eighteen hundred and forty four, the first of the carved years read. Nineteen years and seven more, and Charles McCray was dead.
52: Like a leaf alight on a gentle breeze a life lifts and falls through the years. And as winter lays bare the boughs of the trees, so too a life disappears.
53: The stone's words bring peace to an unsettled soul no more to this land is he bound. His life and his death are now one whole, by the light his spirit is found.
54: For a season or more the old leaf lays, no wind to carry it now.
55: The amber all gone, the stem pale gray, and far from its home on the bough.
57: Yet back at the old knotted bough of the oak, a wash of light came to stay. A warm embrace and the bough awoke, and the greenest of leaves met the day. | The End
59: Photographic images captured at | Fanshawe Pioneer Village | and | Brick Street Cemetery | London, Ontario | Phylmar Publishing, copyright 2011