Mulberry Leaves


It’s called the abscission zone,
the separation zone,
formed at the base of the petiole
where the leaf stem is bound to the branch,
layers of cells that respond to autumn’s
signals for parting. Some deciduous trees lose
leaves one by one, the abscission zone’s cells
weakening, expanding, letting go over days
or weeks, each leaf twirling away from home,
mourned in the moment of its holy fall,
but should a sudden frost breathe its dark ice
upon a mulberry tree, imminent abscission triggers
the pervasive release of every leaf. Stems are severed
from their twigs, cluttered leaves spiral, sent descending,
all at once together, a sudden shattered intimacy, so bold
a letting go, branches fully gowned at dawn hang bared
by midday, exposed to winter’s piercing gaze, a mountain
of leaves blanketing the earth, fallen. Surrendered.

One autumn, our neighbors left in the night. No sign,
no story shared to ready us, no spiraling gradation of
leave-taking; we woke to the silence of an emptied home,
hollowed rooms, blank windows staring, abruptly abandoned.
Perhaps a sudden frost entered their lives, a private calamity
descended like dark ice, leaving them breathless with no choice
but letting go. Surrendered. Relationships sever precisely where
they bonded. Sometimes, falling is easier than hanging on,
sometimes, falling is kinder than farewell.


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12 thoughts on “Mulberry Leaves

  1. You touch my heart with such tender word pictures, memories that had been tucked away, feelings that resonate across time and miles but rush back to remind me of people and places I loved. Thank you, my friend!


    1. Thank you, Snowbird. I’ve been thinking of you and so hope you’re feeling better. I sure appreciate your kindness in visiting and taking time to share a comment…now back to healing and resting! xoxoxo K


  2. Thank you, Lynn. It really was a remarkable day, like someone had turned on huge faucets of mulberry leaves…all around the property and along the bike trail. They just rushed down, as though with a kind of sentient intent, determined to pour from the trees to the growing heaps below…oceans of leaves. And as though they had a time limit and started late.

    I’d heard of leaf-drop days, but we’d never experienced one before this. I taped it, because the sound was amazing, too!

    Thinking of you and sending peace. Do you know it’s almost 7 years since Riley and Clancy died? And now we have 5 rescued pups cramming our days and rescuing us. 💕

    Be safe and well, Lynn


  3. Such a lovely comparison of sudden and total loss. And how odd to lose an entire neighborly history and experience overnight. Did you ever find out what happened?
    I’ve never experienced a leaf drop like that, but then I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a mulberry tree, either. Happy Thanksgiving, Kitty, to you and your two-legged and four-legged loves.


  4. Thank you, Jeanne! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! I’ve really been looking forward to the holidays this year.

    No, never heard the rest of that story; it just vanished.

    The leaf drop day was fascinating. I taped some of it; there was such and intensity and a kind of conscious focus by all the mulberries around us, up and down the trail…a little treasure of an experience.


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