The One Leaf

by Thomas McCarthy

Here beneath a tree time will tell whether it was
Worth getting up this morning

Though none of us are immune.

The self that time makes worthwhile
May never seem whole
In the way Samuel Beckett was
With that one single leaf
On the tree of his entire life:

His bitter truth is not cinnamon, nor should it be.

If time doesn’t want to get married
Or have any children
There is simply nothing that can ever be done
With the leaf on the tree or the lost leaf.

Let me be plain about this and never emotional

Because time will tell. There is a purple shellac
Of the one leaf from the crushing of beetles,
And still a tree within. It’s just that,
Even in the most sublime life found in poetry
It is time, a leaf, that always has the last word.