Snow is only on mountain peaks;
their sides are brown, most trees barren.
Oak leaves stay on low branches;
slow wind turns them east. Lake also
flows slowly, like our slowing,
our white hair, old clinging.
These dry leaves still hold their form,
some function serve though green is gone.
What life they have is all that’s known―
tree, water, blue sky, birds and lake,
to stay in this strange paradise
until harsh message sent―release.
Oak tree slowly frees the leaf;
our bodies take the spirit.
Joan M. Howard’s poetry has appeared in the Aurorean, Lucid Rhythms, The Road Not Taken: The Journal of Formal Poetry, The Deronda Review, Victorian Violet Press, POEM, The Wayfarer, Mezzo Cammin and other literary journals. She has written two books: Death and Empathy: My Sister Web in 2017 and Jack, Love, and the Daily Grail published by Kelsay Books. Joan is a former teacher with an MA in German and English Literature and is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network (www.netwestwriters.blogspot.com) and Georgia Poetry Society, She enjoys birding and kayaking on the beautiful waters of Lake Chatuge near Hiawassee.