She offered light that was as boldly bright
As evening star or satellite.
But now she’s ancient, dusky, hollow-eyed,
A piece of local history
Preserved by some society.
To one who’d grown up in her scope,
Who’d given up on life and hope,
She seemed as purposeless as he.
They’d lost their lights concurrently….
It was a cold, bleak sea.
He stood beneath his eyeless friend
And heard her voice upon the keening wind:
“I might have saved a ship or two
From wrecking on a bar or bank,
But I could not save you….
I lit the night, the world. Now look at me:
I can’t do anything but be.”
“Goodbye,” he said, then sank
And lay down in the darkness of the sea.
A green leaf and a brown leaf, side by side,
On an old oak we walked together past,
The walk I sensed somehow would be our last,
In early autumn, just before you died.
The two leaves seemed the perfect metaphor
That day, for what we were: a grey-haired lady
Who stooped a bit and was approaching 80,
Beside her son (I’d just turned 44).
Your cheeks were flushed as you were laughing, talking,
And pointing out the wonders that you saw:
The mist, the leaves. Your joy made me withdraw.
I drooped and dragged, I was so tired from walking….
I see us now, amid the autumn scene,
Myself the dead brown leaf, and you the green.
Allen Lee Ireland‘s poetry has appeared in The Road Not Taken, The Lyric, Red Planet Magazine, and Button Eye Review. He is currently working on his third book of poetry. His previous collections include Loners and Mothers and Dark and Light Verse.