by Lynn Otto
Now the pin oak and the alder
drop their leaves, all tarnished
forks and spoons,
and their burden shows:
a broken pine cradled there.
It rests in their arms,
a confluence of angles,
festoons their lower branches
with dead needles, small bundles
dangling like rusty tinsel.
They will hold the pine while it is dying
and after. Their growth
must accommodate its weight.
Its constraint, even after it crumbles,
will mark them in the way they’re bent.
The beeches’ light brown leaves in horizontal layers
like my mother’s tiered serving trays
artfully placed in the winter forest and here we are,
in another f—ing tree poem, this one
about the difficulty of letting go of something already dead.
Such a fancy word for it when it comes to trees:
marcescence. You could name a daughter that.
Unlike fury. Unlike grief.
Like the beeches, I need an enzyme to harden my cells,
allow abscission, another elegant arboreal term,
those tidy partings between twig and withered leaf,
or the calm release of ripe fruit.
Consider the clean white spaces
between each layer of a family tree.
It isn’t like that at all.