the plaque could not be more plain.
I stood there and did the subtraction
in my head, getting the number of years,
months, and days that the boy lived.
well above the thick stakes it is held between,
its crown shapely, its leaves rich dark green
with the special shine all living things have in
their youth. Around it its elders lean, in their contortions
from crowding, as is their nature; fallen limbs under them.
now, for fourteen years, decorations have appeared
on the tree. I went up there early
one weekday morning, when nobody
would be around. I wanted the time
to study them and not get stared at.
on the trunk this time. Globes covered with some
shiny synthetic fi ber hang from the branches: