You know the kind of cold winter morning when the first rays of the day twist through the clicking limbs of oak and ash and around the brown winter-dancers, the crisp hangers-on who must find their strength in the illusion of being undead? The old leaves are nervously joyous over their prospects to thwart the naysayers, thus, each one twirls and twirls a ritual dance meant to keep it flying far above the sodden decay.
It is an ancient choreography, a theatrical tragedy meant, it might be said, to please the Gods. In the season called spring, the hangers-on, along with thousands then greening from every sprig, are convinced they are the chosen ones destined to be filled, once again, with the gift of vitality and usefulness. Oh, go dream as they do that when spring does finally come, the winter-dancers will sing in unison as God’s miracle cures their brittleness and they find themselves stronger of stem than ever before.
Their sad shadows jump like crickets over the soft folds of our velour comforter, moving to the mournful whistle of the wind and out of time to the clicking limbs. It has been well a year or more since she rolled over with a soft sweet peep and hum, and I would listen for her low moan and await her arm as it would sneak beneath my arm and her hand would come to rest on my abdomen. And then she would whisper a nothing so soft in my ear lifting me into a shiver of delight.
Something colder than winter had hardened her; and just as with the brown winter dancers, I should know the futility of my anticipation. I just wouldn’t (no couldn’t) come to grips with it. I thought I could weather it, put it into its proper perspective and rationalize away the deeper regrets I deserved.
The years of invulnerability and unfettered self-confidence are gone. Replaced by indefinable needs and internalized chatter reminiscent of important achievements and ignored spiritual non-achievements. There are strange sensations of discontent that follow me through the minutes of my days. I live by pointing behind me at a lagging life, not able to keep pace with the speed at which I seem to be moving for no reason.
There must be a deeper meaning for twirling about for no reason. Maybe the crackling hanger that dances against the cold winter wind is the chosen one. Maybe, just maybe, the waning leaf is meant to glimpse the green buds springing out from every old limb of the tree.
Like the tiger who looks back at his lost pride and asks,"what does the King’s Throne stand for now that I can no longer sit there?"
Jeffrey B. Allen
Author of Gone Away Into the Land