Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Guide To The Trees Of New England \ Lines Written In Illness

Nancy: In the shattered aftermath of an ice storm, the hackmatack assumes an elegance all unexpected.

A Guide To The Trees Of New England

The Elm:    chosen by patriots, a rallying point,
          also favored by poets, who use words like o’erarching.

The Oak:    another patriot tree, singled out no doubt
          for its connotations of sinewy strength.

The Maple:    valued for goodly shade, sweet sap,
          roadside glory.

The Sycamore:    so fine the roads went ‘round it.

Apples, Horse-chestnuts, also Catalpas:    domesticated
          to swings and backyard castles.

The Old Pines:    named patriarchs, groves of historic

The Spruce and Hemlock:    dark dignity, our formal guardians,
          required in suburbs.

The Junipers:    a regimental touch, often seen
          standing at attention.

The Balsam Fir:    for garlands, for wreaths, for green,
          for celebration.

The Birch:    once a naiad, now known to many
          as a lawn ornament.

What’s left for the Hackmatack but to be queen of adversity?
At dawn, in the eye of a winter hurricane, it wears all
the jewels of Opar.  The hackmatack accepts ice as its destiny
and wears it gracefully.  Hackmatack, Queen of Diamonds.

Alan:  Sick in bed, mind smaller than the skull, senses muffled but for the rush of blood in the ears, waiting, waiting...

Lines Written in Illness

Fevered, the mind drifts, helpless, in its shell
Like a dismasted boat within its round
Of blank and ever-shifting fog.  No sound
But the pulse and fizz of each passing swell;
No motion but the motion of the waves
Heavily rocking the water-heavy
Hull, and the inexorable levy
Of half-felt currents binding us, their slaves.
Will we hear at last the comforting bell
Clang at harbor mouth?  Or the terrifying
Groaner warning of the impending shoal?
Will we hear, will we hear its moaning tell
Our years as we sink, broken, cold, and dying?
It speaks not yet.  Endless, gray oceans roll.

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