Scrub Oak: a Letter

Lately I haven’t written you—
I’m not a man much happens to
Though life is dramatically hard. To cope
I sometimes hop from hope to hope.
One of the landings where I’ve been
I thought you’d find some interest in.
Chance or something that works with chance
Had me in poor circumstance
Last spring and on a walk to start
Again my nearly stopping heart,
I passed as other times a tree
The years had wrecked as much as me.
Its life I often took strength from
For how it bore the brunt of time,
But angry at defeated things—
Myself and all death’s underlings—
I saw it now had failed to bud
And cursed it, giving it up for dead.
This spring, and in a better mood,
I walked through that same neighborhood
And passed the tree and the April rain
Was flushing out its leaves again.
Surprised at this unlikelihood
I might have asked myself what good
Was this new life to a tree that stood
Neither for loveliness nor food,
But something about the way the sun
Of middle spring was peering in
At the detailed woodwork of its frame
No artisan had signed a name
To gave me a pleasantly eerie sense
Of the lingering attentiveness
That years ago had made the thing.
So with this thought I too looked in
And in the wayward complex druid
Ramifications of its wood—
The odd forks of its budding sprigs,
The grounded wiring of its twigs—
It was, I slowly understood,
A lightning rod for attitude.
I sense there’s more to what it meant
But here confide the incident
To tell at least, before they blurred,
The facts of it as they occurred.

–June 13, 2004

(“Scrub Oak: a Letter” appeared in the Fall/Winter 2005 issue of Ibbetson Street Press, Somerville MA.)

Published on October 10, 2006 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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