We’ve all seen them standing, tall,
Yet leaning, strong, yet vulnerable,
For they cling to the water’s edge.
What can we learn from them:
Their presence, their struggle,
Their boldness, firm, and unfailing,
Strong, thickly rooted in the mud?
How has time’s slow passage formed them?
How have life giving waters,
Filled their roots, while washing away
The very foundation those roots grasp onto,
Grain by microscopic grain, piece by unseen piece.
As dust to dust, the edge encroaches slowly,
So slow, no motion is ever seen.
The leaving, the absence, captures it completely,
A lone testimony to the delicate cycle,
Exposing the unearthed limbs in their fight
To hold on, and, so far, they have.
In the water their leaves have gathered,
And slowly decompose into those nutrients,
So by dying they make the clung to mud,
As if it is all a fleeting attempt to fill in
The waters, and build back the bank
Before it is all washed away. The cost
Is just to let go of a little fragment of life.
Can they die fast enough to save their lives?
Such is the paradox they seem to state,
In their autumnal fire-leafed evensong,
And though the gyre keeps spinning,
In seasons of life and death, each one
Leaves its ring. The thick ones represent
The winning years, of which there have been many,
But with each the weight of the matter grows.
How many thin rings in a row, lean ones,
Will it take to increase the lean, so much,
The whole tree falls? It hasn’t happenedAs yet. . .