Thursday, April 13, 2017

the Burn and the Tree

the Big Poplar and the burn

the Great Fire burned its way 
across the land, the city, and our surety,
chainsaws and bulldozers, and countless truck beds
have cleared away much of the chaos
along trails and homesites,
though blackened foundations of cinder block and concrete,
just as skeletons, hint at the life they once held,
we can be like the places the fire skipped over,
and forget for a time the tragedy of the fiery drama,

the optimist in me is delighted 
in the flowers that erupt from the land,
sometimes even from the blackened land,

today, though, I am shocked high up a wet hollow,

full of flowers and luxuriant green,
with blackened ridge to either side,
there we approach the Big Poplar:
a massive tree hard against a rocky cliff,
its entire pillar of bark, on the downhill side, is black,
around its base all the leaf and litter burned away:
kindling which ignited the outer dry bark,

the bark still gray and normal on the uphill side,

we look up, and, fortunately, hints of burgeoning green
appear to be leafing out high above,
as if the blackened bark was armor,
dented but still working,

this great tree has endured longer than the country,
and, like the country, I hope for it to endure,
despite the troubles that can beset it.

by Henry H. Walker
April 8, '17

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