Thursday, November 30, 2017

He remembers it standing,
but not that it was the first to fall,
the swing tree, with its difficult roots and its one low-hanging branch,
offered, it might be, by way of apology
for a history of bleeding toes, or
at least a quid pro quo for that blood tribute,
a highway, a hand, into the birds’ realm.

What our mother must have thought, watching,
all the missteps of disaster,
the slippery feet, an overborne branch, a weak bark
Treachery under hand, a casting-out
waiting to happen
that never did happen,
we were thoughtless and so in love with the crown.

It fell instead, when we were still young, a first of many heartbreaks
wrought in hurricanes and a chainsaw’s rip.
It was tall enough to reach the pond
and dip its hair in the black green water
for tadpoles to wonder at.
Had it been that time of year, but it can’t have been, can it? No hurricanes in spring. And I think of it as leafless, anyway, all silver trunks and leaders flat
on a hardening autumnal ground.

He remembers it standing, though,
Longer than the others.
I could say he’s wrong but
They are all giants in my memory.

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