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Brown Leaves

Three men feeding a fire with brown leaves:
two disappear, after a time, return,
while the last stands watch, rolls up his sleeves,

though the air is cold and the earth still heaves
in its sleep. They don’t display much concern,
three men feeding a fire with brown leaves,

but then each of them in his heart believes
he will contain the flames, they will not burn
beyond his limit, as a dog who grieves

for a lost litter soon forgets, or cleaves
to some other love, bed or bowl in turn,
three men feeding a fire with brown leaves.

The flies begin to stir beneath the eaves.
Only those who cannot feel it must learn
that fire germinates, that the pod reaves

in the wind, that time alone relieves
the pressure of our promise, or what pattern
three men feeding a fire with brown leaves
will discern, what fabric our knowledge weaves.

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