Japanese Maple

a lament for Raymond Souster


One week before the Day of the Dead

the Japanese maple in my backyard

is almost too perfect, every leaf

incandescent enough to ignite the night

yet all remain unfallen. You, true master

of the backyard poem, will never see

this tree, nor my wisteria

blown yellow by the winds off Lake Huron.

Nor will we again discuss Robert Lowell

or Kenneth Patchen under your mulberry

during the dog days of a Toronto summer.


May that day never come when we

finally say goodbye, you wrote recently.

But that day did come and go a week ago.

In your last backyard poem you described

leaf-stripped trees facing the bitterness

of winter; today I see my black walnut

retains not one leaf as afternoon

welcomes late October’s chill.


From “Under the Mulberry Tree”




James Deahl was born in Pittsburgh during 1945. He lives in Sarnia with the writer Norma West Linder. He is the author of twenty-three literary titles, the four most recent being: Two Paths Through The Seasons (with Norma West Linder, 2014), North Point (2012), Rooms The Wind Makes (2012), and North Of Belleville (with Richard M. Grove, 2012). He is the father of Sarah, Simone, and Shona.
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