Category Archives: Archive

“These Flaming Angels”

photo by Grant Reed

Fortitude

by Laura Ann Reed


Twelve leaves, all that remains of the Japanese maple’s

autumn conflagration, flutter in a chill breeze. 

At the base of the tree lie the fallen—motionless,

curled into themselves, withered with humiliation,

with sorrow of defeat—their glorious red now 

the brown of earth into whose depths they slowly

sink and decompose, comforting their wounded pride

only in knowing their atoms and molecules will serve 

as fabric for next spring’s flags of victory. But these 

dozen leaves, these flaming angels, their beauty 

terrifies. These demi-gods, radiant, proud, turn 

in the wind but refuse to yield. I’m consumed 

by their magnificence, I bow to them, sing 

their praises, pray to them for courage, fortitude, 

protection from my human uncertainties.


Invitation for Writing & Reflection: Looking out at the natural world, what examples can you find of “fortitude” and resilience, the will to hold on in spite of coming cold? You might describe what gives you strength to face our many “human uncertainties.”