A free-verse poem about a Chinese tallow tree in my backyard.
|Our backyard is home to a forty-year-old
Chinese tallow tree that soars toward the sky
some forty-plus feet tall. It shades the yard
in summer and provides nesting space
for birds and squirrels. It thrives each spring
with the rebirth of green leaves to soak up
the sunshine and create shade.
It’s a messy tree in the springtime.
Numerous small branches remain dormant
and devoid of leaves until they fall,
littering the grass below with their dead bodies.
This spring heralded the usual scattering
of small fallen branches, but one branch
five-feet long and one inch in diameter
became ensnared during its descent
through lower branches by the myriad
of networking, dead, ever-smaller twigs
at the end of another five-foot long, barren
branch. Their interlocking dead twigs
securely anchoring both branches together
in a highly visible open space mid-tree.
I thought these brown, leafless dead limbs
were ugly and eagerly waited for a springtime
thunderstorm’s strong winds to dislodge them.
Fall, why don’t you? Fall! Be gone!
After every storm with gusts of high wind,
I’d look hoping to see these branches on the lawn.
It is now summer, and the two branches
stubbornly have persisted, annoying me daily.
Today, however, I had an epiphany.
At the dawn’s first light, I stood
looking out at the tree. That’s when I
noticed for the first time the trapped branch
gently swaying with the slight breeze,
slowly rocking back and forth, back and forth.
Then my eyes and mind suddenly opened,
and I saw it for what it truly is …
Nature’s yard art on aerial display,
celebrating the season, withstanding
all efforts to dismantle it.
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