I thought it ironic
That brittle leaves
Skidding along the sidewalk
Sound exactly like a stream of rushing water

Nature giving the skittering splintery dead
The very sound
Of what would have nourished them
And how far away they were from what they needed

When I mentioned this to Mary, over breakfast
She looked into her cereal bowl
As if her heart had dropped into it
“I can’t do this anymore,” she said

Years later
When I could think of that moment
Without something breaking
Of her bowed head and dark hair streaming,

It occurred to me
That I had exposed
At that very moment
How very far away I was from what I needed.