(I pass this tree each day on my afternoon walks. She has become a friend.)
Alone she stands, my silent friend,
stark, but stately as a queen;
bare arms splayed across a bright blue sky,
fingers caress the clouds by day, the
distant stars by night.
She didn’t want to lose her leaves—
who willingly gives up life’s greens?—
but knowing dormant winter strength could not
sustain all that their lively work and play demand,
my friend insisted that they leave. They were not
happy either; shouted protest, faces flaming red and
orange and brown; but in the end, each beloved
whooshed or glided to the earth, heaping one
atop the other, sloshing in the wild winds; a
macabre, playful dance of death.
She seems forlorn. Of course forlorn.
How could she not be so? Those leaves were not
mere finery she donned, but part of her, her
poetry, her songs, her prayers.
But heeding the primeval call to let them go,
she gives herself to winter rest, enclosed in roughened
bark that shelters, holds her inner strength against the
icy blasts, against the weight of snows that
sure will swirl and settle on her empty limbs.
I stop and bow in awe of who she is, of
what she lives; and stilled, I hear her sigh,
profoundly sad, but strong and tough as well, and I am
sure—my soul bones tell me so—that far beneath the wind
against her bark—and ours—her memory, deep-rooted, firm,
quiet hums for her—for all of us—a dream of warm
spring ecstasies of green.