a poem by P.K.N. Panicker, India

The leaf
lost its green,
turned a little yellow,
knew of its increasing irrelevance
yet hoped
for a couple of days more
nay, just another moment
before the final call;
but it was not to be so.

The leaf
got detached from the twig,
commenced the last journey,
the inert mass downwards.

The companion breeze
extended a supporting hand
to delay the final fall
but could not sustain for long
as it had to move along, away.

The leaf
swirled, tumbled down
and further down
till the ground kissed it.
The leaf
as it kissed the ground
reminisce of its past.

At the farther end of the twig,
an offshoot of a mighty tree,
a tiny little bud
blossomed into a leaf.

The leaf
at first a tender delicate one,
but as days passed
a fully developed beauty,
with its well defined spread,
dark green,
a proud constituent of the foliage,
learned skills many,
synthesised food to feed its tree;
not its tree alone
but others too,
animals and birds included
and humans too.

The leaf
helped to fix carbon
and put on weight,
grow fatter and fatter,
contributed to the growth of the tree
into a mighty one;
a great one
admired and appreciated by all.

As it aged
tiredness crept into
the midrib and the veins,
chloroplasts lost vitality,
the petiole weakened,
the waxy skin wrinkled,
capacity to work diminished
turned a net consumer,
a burden
on the otherwise strong exchequer,
the leaf
realised its growing isolation.

The leaf, looking back,
felt happy of its own contribution
to the tree, that stood strong and sturdy,
in spite of no appreciation,
award or tile,
resigned to congratulate itself
of the little, little things it could do.

As a glow of serene tranquillity
descended on it,
the leaf was swept away into the trash,
to be buried or burnt.

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