A Child’s Leaves / Gina Olson

A child forms her first word:

a rippling breath

producing tree, an object, a sound with leaves—

bright with lightest green—hints of new identity

lingering on her

warm tongue,

flowing through moss beneath the softened

stream plant, swaying unclearly

but not foggy—the roots

spreading gently over sides of her mouth, stems

producing extensive buds in her lips,

& as the mute form shy language beneath

slowly cracking chestnut masks &

finally show, she

learns tree by each leaf

by blinking & watching suddenly the old man outside the café

as he sips loose leaf tea

(through childhood’s memory mirage—a brilliant

canopy of language we will not find; for we take wrinkles,

crease them out & cannot see) she sees, but doesn’t know

tealeaves bonding, creating

intimate mirages in the unreal water—

tealeaves telling narrative;

reality: leaves are not thoughts grown on trees

they are only plain leaves, occasionally stained

with a spot of something, of some color

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