From childhood to the label of matron
responsibility falls on our shoulders
like leaves from a tree that we rake
through an eternal autumn
and begin again each day.
We know the descent will continue
and we are the ones who must
maintain the motion, never miss a leaf
pile each with care and lament.
Diligent in our task.
Daughter, wife, and lovers
gather colorful and excited leaves
whose antics land them in our grasp,
and young ones who descended far too soon.
Green and supple in their beauty
surrounded by the aged brown and crisp.
Each obligation disposed with the scrape of a rake
we wait until it is our turn to be piled with other women.
Who restfully let go of their love-driven gesture
or dreaded responsibility.
Dana I. Hunter was one of the Top Ten Poets in the 2021 NAMI NJ: Dara Axelrod Expressive Arts Poetry Contest. She has been published in New Jersey Bards Poetry Review: Anthology 2023, LOVE IN THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE – ANTHOLOGY, MIGHTIER—Poets for Social Justice, table/FEAST Literary Magazine, and Open Minds Quarterly.