For now, the swish and swish is all there is. The wooden handle of a rake with its metal-tined delta is all that I, who have come soul-tired, need. That, modest strength in my shoulders, and the blue tarp onto which I toss leaves with a swing that despite everything can’t but be joyous. It’s the swoop of a dance, the flinging of a scarf, the scatter of crumbs to ducklings.
I rake leaves, though I should be saving the world.
Someone should, anyway, and I’m not one to pass the buck. But the sun is bright in an autumn sky, the temperature invites exertion, and the dogs seem happy here in the yard. Swish and swish, my only fuel an apple from down the road and a hunk of monastery gouda. “Our Lady of the Angels,” indeed. As for emissions, there’s my breath, heavier for the effort, and the water from my brow evaporating in the clear dry air. Animal stuff. That’s all.
Swish, swish, toss and toss. I drag the dead – not heavy, not awkward, the leaves stay remarkably in place – to the far side of the yard, overgrown with brambles and black locust saplings. Then with a two handed, full-body tarp fling, I shuck the leaves, a pile and growing, to enter the next stage in their elegantly productive lives. Come spring, I’ll return for the compost. For now, the leaves are high and light and smell sun-glint bright.
The world is coming down around us in hatred and destruction, ignorance and greed. I know this. But I also know that it’s rising with love and wisdom by the creativity of humble intellect, courageous resistance, and the beauty of imaginative souls who say, how poor are the very rich not to rake their own leaves on an autumn day.