Anser Journal

Tree as Teacher

By John Dorroh

When you described the trees coming into winter as bruised,
I perceived it as a sweet flash of light, photons and waves articulating
an image that made me cry. Tall tree trunks on a bronzed mountain ridge
rising up across the creek bottom like an ancient reptile, stretching up, up,
100 feet? I don’t know. But they look sad, like someone has died.

I stand as tall as I can these days, feeling spent with change. Ten years ago
I moved a tree with a hug and gritted teeth. I flipped a boulder with my bare hands
and lifted a fallen tree off of the trail. I challenged black bears to cross my path,
and when they occasionally spotted me, they ran like sissies.

I can feel you tree, the better years of your life having evaporated into
the smoke of time; how your leaves fall sluggishly these days, the struggle
of staying normal, being counted in the tree census, claiming your space
on the lip of the ridge, leaning ever so closely to a dive into the stream
to finish you off.

John Dorroh may have taught high school science for a few decades; the verdict is still out. His poetry has apperaed in about 80 journals, inluding Feral, Selcouth Station, North Dakota Quarterly, South Florida Poetry Journal, and East Iowa Review. He is a Southerner living in the Midwest.