Heather Paul

Scattered Leaves

I am the Camp Kesem Director and Jewish Life Associate at Hillel at Stanford. Previously, I was Program Director at Santa Cruz Hillel, and I was a freelance writer for Santa Cruz Good Times Weekly. I am passionate about writing, literature, history, and experiential education.

If I Ever Stop

"If I ever stop wandering... 
then i'll be lost," you said.
it was three in the morning 
when every word 
bears false importance. 
sentences drifted through our lips 
like cigarette smoke 
we spoke like it was the last time 
and maybe it was because we were students 
living in a universe-city 
where brilliance thrives 
on crowded streetcorners 

You were going to write a road novel
You didn't have a driver's license,
but poetic license was enough 
You built your own road out of paragraphs 
and we gathered free verse like wildflowers 
blooming stubbornly in gritty spaces 

"Nothing is free anymore," you sigh. 
We're so old, and I travel alone these days 
filling jars with wind and colored leaves 
in relentless autumns of discovery  
You left the universe behind  
and lost yourself in the city  
where they toss people out like yesterday's news 
They sell ragged stanzas  
and false importance 
on the corners where life used to bloom  
We never knew we'd have to pay  
for free verse 
The pages of your novel
are stark with winter now
I try to wrap you in a dusty book jacket
but you brush the words from your skin
Forgotten lines and question marks
fall like feathers 

"Breathe," I whisper.
Your warmth hovers 
like a sentence at dawn

When you're ready to wander again
Search for me between the wrinkled pages
I'll be there 
with an open jar 
of autumn
— Heather Paul
© Heather Paul, 2013