TREES – A Series of Ekphrastic Poems

The Art of Trees


October 23, 2020
4:11pm

My father taught me
the art of trees
when I was young,

always pointing out
his favorites:

1.
In Druid Hill Park there lay
a giant tree trunk
gnarled and imposing
for as long as he could remember.

Each time we drove past it,
on our alternate route
from West to Northeast Baltimore,
he would tell the same story,

of climbing over/walking along
its girth and length,

memorizing its lines,
knots and holes
formed by bugs and vermin
living nearby.

The vermin, he feared most,
from the projects
he grew up in.

This I learned only
as we watched the movie “Ben;”

my father, shrinking in his chair, whispered
how rats would emerge, squeaking,
from the walls at night,

and he would hide
under the thin covers.

2.

On Liberty Road there lived
The Ballerina Tree–
its shape exactly
forming a girl in first position:
arms extended in semicircle,
toe pointed down.

It was the halfway point
on the long trip
to deliver his older brother–
after every weekend visit–
back to his nursing home
where he received care
for early-onset Alzheimer’s.

The weekend visits
allowed his brother
to visit his old neighborhood
haunts.

The nursing home kept him
safe, if not happy,
the rest of the week.

Neither Dad, nor these trees,
nor his brother
exist any longer.

But the memories are fresh
when I drive past.

The Soul of a Tree

November 5, 2020

 The Soul of this tree
 is a Woman.
  
 The Woman I wish to be.
  
 In the August heat,
 she is brazen.                                                                                             
 Leaves green and wild,
 shimmering, 
 limbs dancing a flamenco,
 free.

By October,
she begins to shed
her hair, revealing
her body:
trunk sturdy,
her Medusa arms
flung wide 
and inviting
hugs.

 Weeks later,
 she stands bare,
 revealing her life story
 of growing pains---
  
 Some limbs reaching
 straight up to heaven,
 Another forming a wishbone;
 And to its right,
 a leaf of limb and branches
 portends new life next spring.
   
 In the center of the trunk
 sits its heart,
 an oval of air and light
 formed by tiny arteries
 hanging from above.
  
 She stands tall:
 Towering over,
 yet protecting
 her surroundings---
 homes, ground,
 and all.


2 thoughts on “TREES – A Series of Ekphrastic Poems

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