CLEVELAND — The below poem, "Burning Leaves," was written by Leon Bibb:
Autumn leaves are raked into piles
Unceremoniously packed into
Plastic or paper bags
Carted from curbside
By city workers driving big city trucks.
We burned Autumn.
Our neighborhood smelled of smoking sycamore
As my father and I swept flakes
Of wind-whipped fall.
As he cradled his pipe on his lip
He puffed on it,
Sending skyward the
Wiggling waves of smoldering tobacco.
The smoke wafted through the forest of
Emptied branches of our stand of trees.
The same matches he struck to
Kindle his pipe
Also fired the sycamore leaves
Making two smoky streams
Which spiraled upward
Into the late October air.
As he pulled on his pipe
Dad heaped our burning leaves
Carefully checking their fiery crackle.
Lightheartedly, I leap-frogged outside fire’s lick
Skimming its top,
Playing catch-me-if-you can
With the flames singeing fingers.
As Dad chuckled
I chased wind-blown runaway leaves
As if they were horses needing
To lassoed, herded back, and corralled
To our burning pile.
In my memory
Are visions of my father in the prime of his life
And I in the schooldays years of mine.
We raked our yard of its Autumn offerings.
We stepped beneath the stretching sycamore trees
Brown dried leaves
Marking the season’s change.
Under the tree limbs vacant of their leafy vestments
Between my father and me.
In the chill of the breeze, we chatted.
Through the smoke in the air, we spoke.
As we warmed ourselves by the fire
We tended at curbside.
Sharing the moments
We were two generations
Connected by blood
And surrounded by piles of autumn
Which had fallen on our green lawn.
It has been many years since those days
But I miss the times of autumn burnings
And conversations in the smoke-filled air.
But memories of them
Are as secure as those of my
Father and me
Wading through waves of October crunch,
Smelling our sycamore aflame.
---- LEON DOUGLAS BIBB, 1982
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