Tonight, a wind so loud my son mistakes it for rain, not the crash of dry leaves on siding or patio door, the scrape of them on sidewalks as they scuttle and shuffle and scatter, catching in the evergreen’s branches or in the hedges lining all those patio fences. At the end of the street birch wears fall best, leaves yellowed and half fallen. Drab summer would hide them in green; here, trunks are stark and edged with black. I like them best when bracketing highways, a copse of white fading into fog like last Saturday morning before the rain came, when veins of leaves and their sudden bright were best seen on sidewalks, their bodies’ paper made translucent by water.

In a small room that morning a poet spoke of how we write from trauma, and I think maybe all I am doing here is unlearning his. Not how yet to move on, though a woman in a bar tells me time and a man in another tells me body, maybe his, maybe someone else’s, maybe a succession of skin I learn like those leaves, as if by learning how to be vulnerable with body I can learn again how to risk heart.

They are answering what I ask, but it’s still the wrong question, which is not how to move on but instead what did I learn. Here the answer is simple—who I don’t want to be. How best not to hold a heart. How best not to say goodbye. How to try to not wound.

I wish to break no one. To love those in my life like these leaves in all kinds of weather, half crumpled or whole or bright with color, sodden in summer or barely hanging on in fall, to love them like these leaves in all their shapes and varying degrees of wholeness, to just love them.

And if this is all I have learned in the past year, then perhaps it doesn’t matter if I have moved on because I have instead, at least, learned to move forward. To let the inevitable pull of something take up space in me, reshape the core of me, just like autumn and those leaves. Those red. Those brown. Those windblown and beautiful. Those ever changing. To move forward, like leaves.

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