That mysterious moment of death and what comes afterward has been wrapped in religious faith and cultural tradition for as long as people have lived and died. Author Warwick Landon offers a unique metaphor for accepting and embracing the journey in his short work The Leaf, where a reluctant leaf, clinging to an oak tree as autumn turns to winter, is afraid to let go.
“I fear that I am the last to leave, I fear I will not find my kin, I fear this silent wind will still and let me fall, [sic] hold me, please hold me,” the leaf pleads to the oak. But just as life slips from the dying, the inevitable cannot be stopped.
Landon establishes a mystical journey for the leaf to re-emerge in different forms and settings across time and seasons, ultimately offering reassurance that surrender need not mean doom. But his fable’s promise falls apart quickly as sweet simplicity erodes into muddled, overwritten passages, losing readers along the way.
The narrative jarringly veers into what seems like a completely different story, with imagery of ancient tribal chiefs, battered slave girls and woodland creatures, with only tenuous connections to the earlier premise.
Additionally, the target audience is unclear. Landon’s use of dark, sometimes violent scenes could trouble children, while his stilted wordiness might put off young adults, leaving older readers, who are unlikely to gravitate to a parable this short and will be equally deterred by the wordiness.
Landon seems to be striving too hard to impart wisdom and gets in his own way, writing, for example: “And the dark light was no more, it was geometry and colour and sang the songs of oneness… laughing with the leafowl of the silliness of judgements and shame and of the powerful yet perfect nature of things.”
The best allegories are simply told, their power in the subtext. Such verbosity is unneeded. Ultimately, Landon squanders an interesting idea.
Also available as an ebook.