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Humanist Essay for December 2013
"Taking Leave"
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[My usual monthly President's Message appears in the HSNM December 2013 Newsletter. In lieu of reprinting it here, I am sharing this poem, as we seem to be saying a lot of good-byes this season. --ZG]


Taking Leave

What souls are these that hasten on the wind
Their day cut short, their beauty torn from limb?
Were each skittering thing a being whole, unique
Imagine with what pique we'd greet this
Annual autumnal massacre of leaf.

The bluster of this early fall is weak. Those streaks
Of grey that shroud the sun but briefly mime my mood
Of darkly glum. Then, traitors they,
Clouds sweep away, the life you left shines on.
Beautiful, unquenchable, it makes my heart leap.

Great golden crowns of cottonwoods cast
Leaf after leaf into thin blue air, a striptease
That will last the winter and still leave leaves to spare.
I ask the sky: What souls are these? And what are we?
Meaning really: Where do we go?

Knowing really:
Our sturdy qualities and deep impressions
Notwithstanding, gone is gone.

Wherever you have floated off to, friend,
I trust you've made a gentle landing.

* * *

Copyright © 2013 Zelda Gatuskin

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