Out of concern her family keeps a constant watch over her, the youngest leaf on an ancient tree, so very eager to flutter with the slightest breeze. Filial feelings dictate on nearby twigs to sermonize the little chick whose veins contain the thinnest blood. Deep-rooted in the soil, her father is keen on having his fretful kid enjoy a gravity-free life, far above trampling hooves and ruthless feet. A vigil is kept on the motion of Mad Swirl, her epithet for wanting to waltz with the wildest wind, jeopardizing her existence like Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. Mad Swirl pines away as she daily observes how a drop of evening dew gracefully slides down her cheeks to disappear into the mysterious earth. A passing bird that fans her heavy heart with its beating wings shows her the essence of aerial liberty. To slake her thirst for premature death, her sisters entertain her with tales of how all tree leaves are earth-bound when Autumn comes around, the arboreal day of judgment. They will all embark on a journey whose destination is determined by the whim of a wanton wind, to mat a street, a river, or a pond with beautiful swans in it.
An angry boy, madly striking at the inequity of the world with a very long stick, unintentionally severs Mad Swirl from her bed, so she drifts before Autumn has made its annual print. She experiences the weight of hurried feet, the harsh bristles of a sweeper’s broomstick along very indifferent streets, the plight of the downtrodden and the insignificant. She becomes a nuisance on a woman’s hair, a source of germs on a newly served plate, a ferryboat for a stranded ant across a muddy lake, a wrinkled sermon on the mutability of fate, and many other unpleasant things that she did not associate with the ground when viewing the world from a tree.
A sudden gust of wind blows Mad Swirl into the lap of a young man who has been sitting all day in a park, striving to pen some more lines to send to a literary magazine. He carefully picks her up with a pair of aching fingers and inspects the withering face with growing interest. Perhaps this is the auspicious sign, an inspiring line in his unfinished poem, so he carefully lowers Mad Swirl, his God-sent gift, into a clean paper box that he finds in a nearby bin, then hurries home to give her proper shelter in his book-studded apartment. Safe in a pottery pot, she nestles to myriads of petals that exude fragrance. A dewdrop that falls from the young man’s tired eye splashes her face. She prays in peace then crinkles with ease, full of gratitude for having a table strewn with sheets of paper and pens as monuments on her resting place.
Mad Swirl now slumbers in the heart of a poem, folded by pages two and three of a newly published anthology, in which the poet’s leaf-inspired lines have finally appeared, with verdant words as her requiem.