you, little tree
who were once among the ten thousand
down each May, cast
from high huge branches
of the massive maple next door.
I pulled seedshoots by handfuls,
Spindly stem with six leaves,
two tiny, yellow-green,
four below fall to earth’s four quarters.
Sprout eight inches high with ten leaves
growing right where I want a tree,
making sure I see you with a leaf big
as my outstretched hand,
making sure your fate is not the same
as three I stripped leaves from
while attacking ragweed.
Seedling standing so still
pencilly arms pointing Heavenward,
one a little lower,
holding up eighteen leaves just this way
all day all night your whole life
bound to sun and soil
roots slowly widening, delving in dark.
Sleek skin, tight buds,
stiff, gathering snow
waiting in black Solstice.
You greet Equinox warmth
unfolding bright fresh tender tiny red then
soft palms big as mine
dangling on red wrists thin as toothpicks.
My daughter has a fist around
your thin stem:
"Want me to pull this out for you?"
I say, "I'm leaving it."
She points to the three tiny maples
a few feet away.
"What about those? They won't grow like that."
I tell her, "It's a grove."
Big leaves drooping, taking the drubbing
for roots thirsting.
As clouds move on,
emerging limp, damp, dripping,
sparkling jewel drops.
Lifting strong, thick hands to sun
feeding deepening roots.
Inching taller, flinging out
delicate translucent red-gold palms
two by two,
older hands heavy dark green velvet
sheltering cicadas shedding skins.
In a chilling Equinox
turning brilliant yellow
showing off in front of dark barberry leaves.
Wind has its way.
You sway, flap, flutter, gently pat.
Silent, giving air expression.
Four little topmost leaves clear, bright yellow.
Brown-edged leaves below
ripening to soft orange,
drying to brown.
Then all on the ground.
You are thin and grey now, invisible
against the barberry behind you.
No way to deny any of it
and not even a question of acceptance.
Do I give excessive attributes to a
tree so like any other?
(My neighbor across the alley
has a maple in a half-barrel
the same size and shape as you.
Probably the same parent.)
I want you to have mysteries
I cannot know.
You embody my mysteries.
When gusts knock you over
and with loops of nylon pantyhose
and a length of plastic ski rope
tether you to the barberry bush.
but bearing a double curve
just above the ground.
You probably will be bearing that still
when you are huge and I am dead
and someone who never knew me
reads this and contemplates