You could wish that when leaves fall
into the water, they should sink with the easy glide of orcas
the white froth of the ocean rinsing their dry, longing backs
and that as they do so, their bodies should be bathed with light,
and very soon after make fodder for corals to eat.
You may want to think that when these
things happen they flow on a natural sluice.
A leaf falling someplace, the wind blowing every way
the ocean in its place… waiting.
But sometimes when leaves fall
they are all breath
against the wind plucking them.
Sometimes their lungs gorge water.
Sometimes their lips remain black, empty and open.
And sometimes you see doors inside their mouths.
Sometimes their hands whip the water.
Sometimes their skins pickle and bruise and many, many colors come out.
Sometimes their blank wet eyes send prayers to Allah.
Sometimes the leaves,
which could be said to have no place
playing up there in the tree with the fruits,
are picked before they’re deciduous or fruits are ripe.
But what right can anyone have
to intrude on such things—
things between leaves and winds and leaves and trees
and Allah and His creation?
Michael Kang’a was born in the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya. He graduated from Maseno University. He is a psychologist by education but a small-scale farmer by decision, certainly by income. He reads such publications as Rattle, Poets Reading the News, the Kenyon Review and Frontier Poetry among others. He lives in Nairobi, writing poems, short stories and essays.
Photo by Annie Spratt.