From The Brain And The Leaf
By Dinah Hawken
The human brain, so frail, so perishable, so full of inexhaustible dreams and hungers, burns by power of the leaf.
First I see a single leaf.
Light, veined, shapely, green.
Then I see a single brain.
Convoluted. Soft. White and black.
I see both, one after the other.
Imaginatively. In the internal air.
I imagine them with my own brain,
the one I will never actually see
because it is housed
as if in a bank vault
for the time of my life.
But it must be inseparable
– somehow – from the imagined brain
and the imagined leaf.
I realise I have fallen in love
with the imagined leaf.
I simply love that leaf.
Instinctively. But still
I will force myself to include it
In the same image, at the same time
as the imagined brain
even though I am afraid
that the mass, fleshiness and colour
of the imagined brain will detract
from the definition
and life of the leaf.
It does. And I discover
that it is harder for my brain
to see two things at once
than it is to see them singly
and that, as a consequence, the effort
to see also detracts from the clarity
of seeing and therefore
from the imagined leaf.
Though not from the love
of the leaf which seems to be
in a place – a hidden compartment
of the vault, a lower region of my body? –
from which neither my mind,
or time, can displace it. I cannot
imagine not loving the imagined leaf.
(Well, I can imagine it, since you
can imagine almost anything,
but it wouldn’t be true.)
The leaf has taken a life
in my mind defying gravity:
being at the same time
the small, ordinary leaf that it is,
every other individual leaf
and all leaves on all trees.
Try for a moment to imagine
the number of leaves on all trees
or even a few trees. Unimaginable!
The small heart-shaped leaf
(upside down) in my mind
even represents the long waving leaves
of the three cabbage-tree heads
I can see from this window.