B i r c h e s
Remember how we stole them -
on the way from mother's
somewhere on the Mass Pike -
three leggy young saplings,
brought home in the trunk of the car.
How many years ago, do you think?
Could be forty.
They thrived -
your dad sat under them -
Wrote about the past -
the place where birches
were sacred, and very white.
The white birches of my homeland,
I would recite in the barracks,
the would-be actress of thirteen,
pleased to bring the refugees to tears.
Our child straddled the big fork
steering with a crooked branch,
and went to Olympus to give gifts
to the gods - she was always Athena -
to Narnia to visit great Aslan.
Now, one by one, the trees die;
dark bare stumps still rise up
to the autumn sky
next to the richer dying of the maple.
No more that soft early green,
the wrinkled baby hands
of early leaves, the catkins -
spring's earrings overhead.
I see you've brought out
the electric saw,
but not used it yet,
reluctant as I am to part
with our happy theft
so well rewarded.