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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Leaves Upon the Water"

This is the linkback poem from the March 7, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was originally hosted by Dialecticdreamer. It is spillover from the December 6, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl, inspired by zianuray.

"Leaves Upon the Water"

In autumn, when the rains come,
the rivers and the ponds
overflow their banks.

As it flows along the fields
and the floor of the forest,
the water gathers up
the fallen leaves.

The silver maples are
still a pale gray-green
tinting toward yellow,
but the red maples are
already scarlet and crimson,
a fire floating underwater.

Box elder and buttonbush blaze
in shades of orange, dropping
their lozenges into the flow.

The big rippled leaves of
sycamore and cottonwood
float by like brown and gold plates.

A few strays of oak and elm
and hickory drift in from higher ground.

The yellow slivers of willow are everywhere,
dotted with burgundy and purple dogwood.

Overhead the vines of riverbank grape
bind the canopy together, dropping
their rusty leaves in the water.

This flood is shallow and
not particularly swift, unlike
the spring runoff raging with life.

It ambles its way toward winter,
carrying spindles and spatulas
of unexpected color, gathering in
eddies of river and pool and pond.

In some places it runs clear,
but in others it turns murky.

When at last the water recedes,
the leaves are left lilting in puddles
like stained-glass windows,
leaded by mud, lit by sun.

By the time even the mud has dried,
the leaves have turned brown,

becoming one with the earth again.

* * *


Wetlands may be forested (primarily covered by trees), scrub (primarily covered by bushes), or otherwise.  Riverbottom land can be either, or a mix of both; it's dry much of the time, but floods frequently.

These are are some trees and shrubs that can tolerate standing water:
Acer negundo – Box Elder
Acer rubrum – Red/Swamp Maple
Cephalanthus occidentalis – Buttonbush
Populus deltoides – Dogtooth Cottonwood
Quercus macrocarpa -- Burr Oak
Salix Babylonica – Babylon/Weeping Willow
Salix exigua – Sandbar Willow
Salix nigra – Black Willow
Vitis riparia – Riverbank Grape

Read more about wetland plants.

Maples tolerate water well and their seeds are easily washed downstream to new places.

Most oaks are upland trees, but some species such as swamp white oak and bur oak thrive in wetter areas.

One ubiquitous wetland plant is willow, and elm also appears.  Willows may be found in many types.

Among wetland shrubs are dogwood and buttonbush.

Riverbank grape is a common vine.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
zianuray From: zianuray Date: March 22nd, 2017 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
So pretty! I can see the water and the leaves and the little eddies and swirls :) This may be my new meditation place.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 23rd, 2017 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed the imagery.
From: technoshaman.dreamwidth.org Date: March 24th, 2017 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Q. macrocarpa's relative, the live oak (which is sort of an umbrella term for oak that is (a) green all year and (b) tends towards watery habitats), is the secret of the USS Constitution.... the live oak doesn't make for very long boards, but it's very dense and springy and tolerates moisture as well after being cut as before... Old Ironsides was made by sandwiching short boards of live oak between traditional long boards of white oak (the usual English shipbuilding material. The result was a hull off which cannonballs literally bounced... and why she is still in commission to this day.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 24th, 2017 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)


I did not know that. How fascinating!
cflute From: cflute Date: March 29th, 2017 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)

bright bouquets of autumn leaves

Love the colorful imagery! Reminds me of "Autumn Leaves", by Echo's Children. I was going to put a link to the lyrics in the comment, but I can't because it's not in the lyric index. I'll see if I can get that remedied.

There's a red, "To Be Continued" at the bottom, but the poem feels complete. What's up with that?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 29th, 2017 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: bright bouquets of autumn leaves

It still has 5 verses left.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: November 19th, 2017 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)
This poem reminds me strongly of one by Robert Louis Stevenson, in his A Child’s Garden of Verses. When I was a child I had an LP from a label called "Esoteric", consisting entirely of songs whose lyrics were those poems. I still know some of them by heart and occasionally sing them to myself or to others. This is one.

Where Go the Boats?

DARK brown is the river.  
Golden is the sand. 
It flows along for ever, 
  With trees on either hand.   

Green leaves a-floating,     
  Castles of the foam, 
Boats of mine a-boating--
 Where will all come home?   

On goes the river 
  And out past the mill, 
Away down the valley, 
  Away down the hill.   

Away down the river, 
  A hundred miles or more, 
Other little children 
  Shall bring my boats ashore 

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 19th, 2017 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)


What a beautiful song! :D I even found a video of it online.

I'll have to keep this in mind for Terramagne-America. It really fits the social atmosphere there -- the idea of sending toy boats downriver for someone else to enjoy. I could totally see Aidan and Alicia singing this with Saraphina.
8 comments or Leave a comment