Friday, February 13, 2009

Dreams of the Old Oak

Standing alone, exposed,
the forest around since carved away
the lone oak thinks upon its life,
two hundred years and this still day

when ice and snow have everyone
and every creature small and great
hunkered down or holed up tight
waiting 'til the weather breaks

How did all this come to pass?
On these fields once forest stood
a thousand saw teeth cut a swath
reducing tree to pile of wood

The soldier coming home again
did shelter from a summer shower
shivering children bound for school
meet the bus, ungodly hour

Horses reins loosely tied
around my trunk much thinner then
while high above the red-tailed hawk
screamed his love in April's wind.

Scars of plows that bit my bark
love-torn farmboys' crude-carved hearts
shotgun slugs and hatchet lines
all of these have left their mark

the woodcock's nasal serenade
harvest moon on hayrolls gleam
hooting owls and howling wolves
all of these are in my dream

an autumn day so long ago
my leaves all red and orange-brown
the air held promise of a snow
a million wings came whirring down

fat pigeons came to eat me bare
the acorns heavy on my limbs
birds so focused are unaware
of danger nearby, creeping in

One secret thing I still hold close
twelve feet above my largest knot
deep in the heartwood an arrowhead
from a young warrior's first pigeon shot.

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