Howard Nemerov writes in his poem "The Consent" of a phenomenon that I, too, have observed: the sudden overnight drop of leaves from a tree. One day the redbud tree is still full of leaves; the next day they are all on the ground - or, more likely, floating in my goldfish pond waiting for me to net them out.
How does this happen? What is the secret signal they hear that tells them all to drop? And if this happens to leaves, can it happen to us, too?
by Howard Nemerov
Late in November, on a single night
Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees
That stand along the walk drop all their leaves
In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind
But as though to time alone: the golden and green
Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday
Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.
What signal from the stars? what senses took it in?
What in those wooden motives so decided
To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,
Rebellion or surrender? and if this
Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?
What use to learn the lessons taught by time.
If a star at any time may tell us: Now.