Friday, June 30, 2017

of bushes and tragedy

the boxwood’s and rhododendron’s story

many tragedies tell themselves
if we can hear them,
a home lost to the fire is easy to hear,
and it scares me with its blunt power,

yet I also ache to hear the boxwood’s story,
planted by my dad near 80 years ago,
now it’s hardwood height and breadth
cooked away in the heat of the fire
that swept up around it,
a few shoots valiantly struggle from the roots,

some of the native rhododendron were also cooked,
their leaves now brown and straight as icicles,

a rhododendron bush looks young,
for their trunks at most have the size
in width of an adult human leg,
yet they grow so slowly I’ll bet their inches of diameter
represent centuries of growth,
they have endured quietly and graciously,
greening the world of the creek,
their rose-white blossoms cheering us every year,

many of the nearby trees, much younger and much greater,
hid their strength from the fire in their roots
and let their bulk protect them,
if I look into their canopy I can imagine all is the same,
it’s the coal-black soil and down logs that tell a different story,

the rhododendron nearest the protecting creek
also can seem untouched, while next to them,
deadened rhododendron leaves mourn what they’ve lost.

by Henry H. Walker
June 25, ’17

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