Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Great Fire's Aftermath

The Big Poplar

a year and a half ago,
the Great Fire roared over these mountains, 
particularly where the woods were dry
along the ridges, at the heads of slopes,
less so deeper in the hollows,
where, even in extreme drought, water lasts longer,
at the head of a hollow,
the home of cove hardwoods,
one great tulip poplar tree was not felled
when thousands of its brothers and sisters
became lumber and house,
maybe those logging wanted to leave it
as a bit of remembrance of the great forest once here,
maybe those logging noted its top blown out by the wind
and figured rot marred its worth,

it stands where slope starts to reach steep and rocky out of the valley,
a great wind roared the fire up its downhill side,
a char all the way up its trunk,
last summer its roots and circulation
 remembered how to bud and leaf
but I feared the effects of the char,
this spring we hike up to its magnificence,
the forest floor luxuriant with leaf, with flower, with fern,

many trees awake and leafing out with exuberance,
on the tops of the ridges leading up to the Poplar
the trees were gaunt, many lifeless,
as the Big Poplar itself comes into view
I search for new growth at its top,
a companion tree leafs out enough 
to confuse me for awhile
that it’s the Poplar greening,
the Big Poplar itself, though, looks lifeless,
maybe some growth on a few limbs, probably not,

a deep sorrow starts to build in me,

a great tree deserves a mourning.

by Henry H. Walker
April 20, ‘18

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