Sally O’Dowd is the author of the poetry collection Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss.

Throughout the summer,
leaves fell off our indoor ficus,
scorched by the harsh light
coming through the living room window.

By September the braided trunk
stood nearly bare.
I swept up the leaves—
the pain they felt while drying, gone.

Was my fault for not knowing
that softer light is better —
I had set up the leaves
for a fight.

*

Away from the window,
the tree recovers.
Antsy sprouts,
with their sweet way
of ensuring it’s safe,
peek outside overnight.
Bright green tips greet me at dawn —
not everything is dark.
I say, “Good morning, newborns.”

*

Sometimes I sit in silence
looking at the tree and its companions:
the poinsettia from the local VFW;
the white orchid with a card
from our neighbors,
Sincere condolences;
the one on the shelf
whose single branch,
so tall now,
needs support from the wall.

Although new leaves slowly
round out the ficus,
you couldn’t draw a circumference.
Spaces remain.

The Fallen is from my series Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss.

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