Another Crown

He stepped outside, the night his party filled
The house with people just like every year,
And walked alone beyond the backyard fence
To watch the sycamore release its leaves.
What grief he felt, afraid to show his guests,
I think I know. 
The night had passed like all
The others, full of talk and food. We told 
Him, “Happy Birthday! How’s it feel to leave 
Another year behind?”  He laughed, then shrugged 
And waved his hand. This did enough to please
Our questioning, distracted as we were
By cake and things we’d hoped the night would hide
From us till morning came. But then I caught
Him take his leave; he did not see me step
Out too, and watch where now he stood before
The tree. 
Its branches sloughed with quiet grace
Their golden leaves, and so they fell. At last 
Relieved of earthly glory’s mortal weight,
Those branches seemed to reach for what they would
Receive in spring: another crown. Perhaps
He had this on his mind when, stretching out
His arms like branches bearing leaves, he prayed
The wind would slough them too.

--Lauro P., Adult