August Break #2: leaf (or the story about my first Pushcart Prize nomination)

Much like the poem describes, I was reading a library book when a leaf fell out of it. I didn’t recognize the leaf, but I was fascinated by it. Later, the same kind of leaf but smaller also fell out of the book. Suddenly, a poem was born. Sometimes it happens that way. Easy. Like it was always there just waiting for the right time to come through. I don’t remember even editing it much, which may be a good or a bad thing. I submitted the poem for an annual anthology in San Diego, and it was published in March/April 2021.

I participated in a Zoom reading for the publication of the anthology. I like the poem. I since have learned that they were gingko leaves.

Photo by Alina Blumberg on

Then in December of last year, I happened to be scrolling through Facebook when I saw this announcement:

I was elated to see that the anthology editors had selected my piece to submit as a Pushcart nominee. The Pushcart Prize is a poetry accolade for poets that are published in small presses and whose editor(s) nominate. It was the first time I’d been nominated, and while a nomination is not something you necessarily add to a CV or resume, it’s still nice recognition.

Here’s the poem:

Quiet Place

I turned the page of my library book
and there, rested between dialogue,
was a pressed leaf unlike any I’d seen before

it looked almost like a leaf cutout
its shape irregular
small ridges fanning out from the base
but the stem, tough and woody,
flattened from the crease

I flipped the book, shook it
a second leaf, same kind, just smaller, younger
slipped out from its quiet place

who placed them and when
are questions I asked myself, but then another:
how many readers saw them
yet kept them safely stowed –
gentle gifts for the next reader
to take up, spin slowly, touch delicately

maybe even, like me, they conjured
familial relationships, a mother leaf
a daughter leaf, separated by words
independent but connected
by history, by their similarities
able to exist without the other
but choosing to remain close
just a few chapters apart

I replaced the leaves in new pages
kissed on either side by prose
for the next reader to discover

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sandy says:

    I’ve never read this poem. I like it!

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