A dry leaf

Blog post
Published: 02.04.2010

This morning, as she sits enjoying the warmth of early autumn sunshine, Matilda is transfixed.  Motionless, except her tail which twitches and writhes with a life of its own.  What can she see?  Watching the little honeyeaters feed from the callistemon flowers is a favourite  occupation; but there is no bird.  Ah! now I see.  She is watching a dry leaf fluttering in the breeze.  It has died, dried, and as it dropped has become caught on a filament of spider-web.  Its movement does look very like a bird or a butterfly --- something with wings. 

Like Matilda, I am easily deceived.  I see wings where there are none. Ideas promise to take flight, only to dry and drop on my studio floor.  Bins have been laden with such apparently failed projects, gold and silver melted down, lead taken to the scrap metal merchants, paper recycled, stones returned to the earth. 

The thing is, to appreciate that a dried leaf has its own particularity. Its own meticulously calibrated response to the natural imperative to which it is bound. Its own beauty. To consider that its fragility might be its most significant asset, quite aside from its ability to crumble and turn to compost, providing nutrients for the new leaves next spring.  And to be alert for possibilities within the fractured, the fragmentary, the ephemeral.  To remember that even a dried leaf can take flight.


callistemon with dry leaf


About the author

Margaret West is an artist who sometimes makes jewellery; she writes: mostly poetry essays. She has exhibited widely in Australia overseas. She lives in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.

About this blog

Touching the thingness of words the wordness of things.