April 13, 2020
The city took down an American elm on our corner that was slowly dying. That tree provided shade all summer long for three homes. Its trunk must have been 3 1/2 feet in diameter with its crown spreading over 100 feet. After almost two decades of living under its reach, I was heartbroken to see it come down. I wrote this poem at the time, and now I often pause when I pass its stump.
Old elmAbandoned farmhouse,greying outbuildings.In your final winter, you stoodwith empty, cracking branchesto tell us plainthat your kind shade would be gone - My father, too, would warn us soin his gruffled, dying voice to give us time to account,to record, to not be frightened. Empty sky. Time unwinds.I see you bud up from soil in a crowded prairie beforethis town, this house,my people. I bend here on your stumpshaved to the ground.Our kinship remains. Deeper need -a certain kind of new breath. We vine together.You remind me, I thank you.You hold me, I bless you.You become me, I become you.
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