It is a willow when summer is over,
a willow by the river
from which no leaf has fallen nor
bitten by the sun
turned orange or crimson.
The leaves cling and grow paler,
swing and grow paler
over the swirling waters of the river
as if loath to let go,
they are so cool, so drunk with
the swirl of the wind and of the river—
oblivious to winter,
the last to let go and fall
into the water and on the ground.
I grew up with a willow tree in our backyard. I always seemed a sad tree to me, weeping its leaves into our fish pond. I hadn’t thought about that tree until coming across Williams’ poem. Odd. Those willow leaves, as I recall, didn’t succumb to the “kiss of the sun” and fade away into autumn and winter as our maple did so stoically.