27 November 2014

The Maple

Big-Leaf Maples are native to the Pacific Northwest, from the western valleys of the
Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
Photo by The Wild Garden: Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database
(Creative Commons).

It stood inside the backyard fence
behind our house, beside the street.
It smelled of ancient streams and rocks
and nodded in the breeze.

On rainy days, its mossy trunk
worked better going down than up;
Each fall it buried half the yard
in happy drifts of orange and gold.

Its branches—big as other trees,
tireless and wise—swept up and out
and beckoned us to see the sky
reframed and be refreshed with shade.

One Saturday our father placed
three pipes to hold and brace two swings
whereon my sis and I would laugh
and fly and peek outside the fence.

And then they came with biting saws,
and I was nine and cried to see
the Maple left there on the ground
to be cut shorter and then split.

But when I hear the crunch of leaves
or sit beside a fireplace since,
I think of all that's good and green
and feel the warmth of my old friend.

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