The Tenth Leaf

The Tenth Leaf

I knelt under the tree,
 My gaze fastened upward, 
They had told me in the village, 
The tree shed ten leaves on you, 
If your wish was to come true.
Patience, I whispered, 
Let Him bide his time.
And softly, a leaf came fluttering down, 
As though balanced skillfully, 
On the Master Juggler’s hand.
The others would follow, I knew.
After all in God’s kingdom, 
I had been a good citizen.
Another fell! And another!
I counted nine in all, 
By the time they came looking for me.
The boy, ever cynical, laughed out loud,
 But the girl always understanding, 
Judged my earnestness.
“Okay Mom, we will wait a while.”
I smiled and looked up,
“That one? Or will it be that one?”
The crescent moon stole over the horizon, 
The crickets began their tuneless chirping, 
I stood up, my cramped limbs complaining, 
I felt nothing but an unmatched terror,
The tenth leaf did not fall.
I walked away, heavy in heart, 
Eyes still turned backward, 
Let it fall, my dear Lord, 
Not ‘on’ me but ‘behind’ me?
But the tenth leaf did not fall.

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