Botanical Peregrinations

I carried two leaves
across the country,

tucked into a book about primitive shelters,
or some other anachronism.

Two leaves
of tulip-poplar,
lobed like a cat’s face.

You laughed when I mentioned the similarity.

I wanted you to see why I would bother,
why I cared.
So I tipped the knife into the green, pliant branch.
The ash-gray bark split for you,
waxy cambium and the grassy scent of
slow, pulsing life.

Your fingers plied the sheath apart,
and you leaned,
and looked up.

By then, those cat-faced leaves
had turned the color of the sun,

and they lay all around you,
all around us.

The two leaves I carried
are brown,
pressed in glass,

and hanging on my wall.

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