I have lived in eleven homes in three states,
and decide to visit the house of my youth.
Standing in the sun parlor looking across at the park
I spot the large oak that had been such a childhood friend.
He has not moved and doesn’t seem to have aged.
He is still, inert, seems very solid in the same dirt,
but I know this oak, he is not as he appears,
and is the same number of years older as I am.
Half a century ago we discussed his many different
departments, growing broader rings at the middle,
seeking deeper into the soil for nourishment,
reaching out to the sun and responding to the seasons.
He showed me his cycle through these seasons –
youth, his spring – summer his adulthood,
flourishing, reproducing – autumn, slowly re-coloring
to a completely leafless, dormant winter.
And he recanted every season the secret.
Like the toast of the new year, he is born again,
in the same form but with completely
new green awareness, resurrected, re-incarnated.
I think of how superior we are, as we move around him
with our constant anxiety about our mortality and legacy –
able to view from all sides, speak patronizingly about the old days –
carry a pad and pencil to take notes about our relationship.
And no, we didn’t really have a discussion –
but don’t imagine that you can have millions of moving,
growing parts that die and renew every year,
for hundreds of years, and no noise, no communication.
Pride diminishes as we continue to move our wooden pencil,
and realize that while our friend has a limited vocabulary,
he is the maestro of a symphony of oak,
that we would not know where to begin to conduct,
and certainly, wouldn’t have the patience to maintain.
Craig has written poetry all his life, is now retired, and thinks of poetry as hobo art. He loves storytelling and the aesthetics of the paper and pen. The parallel, horizontal, blue lines on white legal, staring left to right, knowing that the ink, when it meets the resistance of the page will feel extroverted, set free, at liberty to jump, the two skinny, vertical red lines to get past the margin. He was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and has a book of poetry, Roomful of Navels. After a writing hiatus he has recently been published and has work forthcoming in a dozen or so journals.