Today, waiting on the schoolhouse steps, I saw something I had never seen before. My back against the warm brick wall, in happy prospect, I stared abstracted towards the red-orange of autumn on a tree. At the very center of my concentration was a single leaf; a torn yellow-green, not even red yet. But it fell. I saw the precise moment of release - the instant the leaf actually disconnected from the branch. It was the brevity of perfection. Partition in sunderance, an umbilicus severed, a future unlatched; an end and a beginning. There was an eternity within; the filial unity, the brief struggle for escape, then the sudden absence of support; and from an empathic vicariousness I found myself within.
I found my entire life in the transience of an instant; I sat up, in respect and humility. The leaf swung in descending pendulum. I rose to grab it, then stopped.
I was standing in a small pile of wet and shredded leaves. The leaf, lifted by a breeze, slowed, suspended, paused then rolled over on itself. I knew that one day this leaf too, would crumble into a crust of sinew and stem - so I let the leaf continue, rising upward.
The leaf waltzed in an orbit around itself. Others fell around it, but I kept my attention. This leaf was lighter. It took its time. The torn yellow leaf, because of its shape, spun differently than the rest. The leaf was continually tossed up in irregular oscillations, gaining further distance, until it came near the wall of the building. As the wind approached the brick schoolhouse, the air was forced up and over, trying to pull the leaf along with it.
The leaf reached up, against gravity, and against the lacerated shreds below.