Robert Okaji

If You Drop Leaves

If you drop leaves when she walks by,
does that signify grief for those
cut down early,

or merely drought?
How easily we abandon and forget.

Yet a whiff of lemon verbena or the light
bouncing from a passing Ford
can call them back,

tiny sorrows ratcheted in sequence
above the cracked well casing

but below the shingles
and near the dwindling shade
tracing its outline on the lawn.

And what do you whisper
alone at night within sight
of sawn and stacked siblings?

Do you suffer anger by way
of deadfall or absorption,

bark grown around and concealing
a penetrating nail, never shedding
tears, never sharing one moment

with another. Offered condolences,
what might you say? Pain earns no
entrance. Remit yourselves.

Robert Okaji holds a BA in history and lives in Texas. The author of three chapbook collections, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Posit, Shantih, Clade Song, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, High Window, Reservoir, Crannóg, and
elsewhere, and may also be found at https://robertokaji.com

Emily Corwin