In search of green spirits
There is wisdom
in keeping one’s eyes shut.
No one chooses stone.
We women lacquer our faces,
bolt breastplates to our hearts.
We turn our tender sides
towards earth to shield
our delicate blue white veins
and like Andromedas we expose
ourselves but briefly
as do the leaves before a summer rain
when gentled by a gesture
from a wild zone.
I watch the pear tree wither
bored and ripped by pileateds;
I fear that one harsh burst of wind
will tear her from her berth.
My eye is practiced; I’ve doctored trees
since pedaling my tricycle
up and down the sidewalk on Prospect Street
to call on patients, to console or medicate.
I plied my trade with poultices
extracted from the berries of the yew.
Birches clustered at the end of our flagstone walk;
small insects infested the black excrescences
on their chalky bark. Adroitly, with sharpened sticks,
I probed and plucked. The aging pines
often fractured limbs; invited me to scale their heights
where viscous amber hemorrhaged from their breaks.
Precious drops were proffered me in payments
to seal another patient’s gaping wound.
The nursery behind the house incubated saplings,
thousands each spring. One Japanese Maple provided
another generation to the neighborhood and I, master of triage,
heedless of morality, transplanted the reddest,
sturdiest ones to richer soil and more sun.
In autumn I witnessed arboreal largesse;
fruits of every shape and size were flung
and leaves were lit by brilliant hues they brewed inside.
Winters I barely endured, but there they stood
brave, many naked and from one another fields apart. Asleep,
hope lingered in their cambium layers.
By March spring was unimaginable
but finally broke its trance with fragrance, fragility,
and flutters of exuberance that quickly faded.
Summer trees disguised my fears in greenery.
I still observe the lives of trees.
Some have graceful lives and deaths,
others suffer man’s brutality. I cannot concoct a salve
to quell incurable uncertainty.
TO A PINE ON HER LAST SUMMER DAY
Inspire the sun.
Release your redolence.
Dance with the wind
and embrace the growing heaviness
of your cones.
We all pray for a natural death, to be taken slowly,
though relentlessly, by a decreed decay,
or swiftly, in the sanctifying violence of storm.
No one, in her secret heart, expects
the violation of war
Here I stand and watch them rasp your skin,
and lacerate your yellow bleeding core.
And proffer what? Merely
sorrow’s jagged weepy sore,
and promise refuge to your spirit
should you ever deign to visit me.