Burning Leaves

By Tom Rodriguez

Every Fall from the time I was old 
Enough to remember things
Until I turned fifteen years of age
My father would start raking the falling leaves

He would create large piles
That he would burn at the curb gutter
Once or twice a week until 
Our trees were naked of leaves 

One of my most vivid memories 
Is of my parents, three brothers and I 
Standing around the fire talking late into the
Cool Fall evening hours 

All of us enjoying the smell of burning leaves 
And looking down our block at other brightly lit fires
Being tended to by the silhouetted figures 
Of other fathers, mothers and children

I do not remember when the burning of leaves ended
But I believe that it was decided that it was unsafe
Nevertheless, these many years later when Fall arrives
I always think back to the magical days of my youth

And make a silent wish that one Fall day
I will walk down some strange street and
Will once again experience the distinctive
Unforgettable smell of burning leaves

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