Two Poems by James Braziel
A Red Leaf

My son gave me a red leaf,
something of autumn, full of the first blood
of cool weather, of the change in his years
from six to seven. Already the deep scarlet
is browning, drying, curling. Already
I see the place the leaf came from and know
that soon all the branches will be bare.

The veins in the leaf flake like skins of onions,
ridges forging to the stem, leading to
the broken point, the hatchet snap in his hands.
How much more of this falling, I wonder?
How many more will my son give?

Today there is only one and he is off to play
something chasing, something fast,
quick as this season, the sun leaning
heavy in the sky, full of red leaves,
the last of the red light still to gather.


Field Hand

I woke this morning to the smell of diesel,
of trucks and tractors passing through a field
of melons, of corn. The sun had yet to come out,
but my body felt as if it had wrestled with
vines and wheels and the end of the day was this beginning.
I brought my hands from under the covers
to make sure they had been asleep, numb and resting,
but they smelled of diesel, they smelled of work.
They shook, and I tried to breathe and relax
as the sun gave the room a light to peel open.

James Braziel