Trees of Life

In New Hampshire, twelve sugar maples circle our lawn
so vast it takes Dad on the tractor and me and Mom with wide wooden rakes
to roll the carpet of leaves, knee deep, to the edge of the woods

at the foot of a stand of white birch,
pencil thin trunks, golden yellow leaves,
papery bark I write love notes on

to send to my favorite ever boyfriend
in Alabama, who throws magnolia cones
for his retriever Beau to chase

into the pond, to fetch amidst
the roots of the weeping willow,
though I never cry when we we’re together

under loblolly pines at Chewacla State Park,
midnight blue, we make love
on the splintery picnic table

before I drive south, past orchards
of waxy green orange trees, the car
filled with the scent of wedding blossoms

through a mangrove swamp turning water a tannic brown,
the sun turning me dark like a cup of tea,
the smell of iron primordial

on the coast, I stand on a beach, invisible
in the sun’s glare against sand white as bones,
and hear the palm tree whisper to me.

 

© 2011, Jane Harkins. All rights reserved.

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