Leaves don’t fall. Not in any straightforward sense. You really get a sense of this if you watch widely, unfocus that point in the centre of your looking and gaze from the sides of your eyes. Delight your peripheral vision. Wait for the great exhalation to pass over an avenue of plane trees.
While you wait we lay down the background tracks: the footfalls, occasionally a hard heel more resonant; the stream of conscious chatter, a sort of non-respiring susurrus that might pass as a replacement for a mountain river if you’re in the right frame of mind; all punctuated with crunching as a foot speaks with a leaf adrift in the path.
Now the breath comes over the trees, you hear it for beautiful moments before it touches you. And if you are listening in that interlude you feel your heart set itself higher, the soul that lost its wings and fell to flesh stretches its phantom limbs, your sinews tension, your skin intensely waits.
It is the moment you stand in the hot sun on a tall rock above cool water and throw yourself into the air. It is the moment before you lean in to kiss the girl. The static electricity of desire is pendant on the tip of every neuron. It is the aching, aching anticipation of the touch of the wind. This is how a tree waits.
When the Spirit comes, the breath, the wind—whatever you call it—and runs his fingers through your hair, and you reach up to catch his hand and feel his fingers passing through yours, knitting and parting and passing on… When you cannot follow. When you consist in moments of anticipation, fraught for touch, longing to be caught up… then we shed leaves like tears, wordless signs that we are ready to hear the promises. Then we cast our dead things into the air to see them dance in his hands, to see him lay them gently to rest in the earth and then raise them up again.
Watch when the wind comes.
The leaves do not fall.