background image
the heat lightning 255
viewed up close its old trunk
with its deep rough crevices
and hard ridges covered with
sharp protuberances is
a badlands: there's nothing here
to penetrate to, it says;
impassive, unmoving, dead.
Whereas the leaves, with their fi ne
patterns and movements that take
the eye are transitory
and expendable -- thousands
of them in agitation
all over, to the one trunk
almost featureless and like
nothing that's alive, whereby
the tree lives -- holds out and lasts,
standing over the big ditch
steady and astir also.
The brown water runs past it
in the summer; in late fall,
the ditch dry and the weather
dry, the leaves turn a brilliant
clear yellow -- it is startling,
the rough shining globe, against
the clear sky. The leaves fall then
in the ditch and are still bright
and new-looking when the snow
covers them, below the wood
that stands patient in the air.
The tree has had its full growth
for some thirty years at least,
bears its multitudes of seeds
regularly -- small white dots