SONG OF THE TULIP TREE

I stand alone
in my great height.
I cherish nothing

more than my own roots.
The decay of the world
is my nourishment.

What happens below me
passes like the floss
from autumn milkweed;

And the stars
are no more than the hum of gnats
tossing in the vault

of my summer shade.
Not death not grief
not the thunder of human history

sways the vast and wrinkled
stone of my trunk.
My joy is in the sun

and the rain and the passionate
art of the wind
stirring like a lover

the enormous green play
of my branches.
What dies beneath me

finds no pity,
but in time is taken up
and sent out briefly to dance:

a nameless leaf in the wide
blue music of the weather.
And you, far below,

with your small face
looking up, I have no need
for homage.

Your human heart
is no more to me than a sparrow’s
egg blown from its nest.

But if sometimes
out of loneliness or a desperate
urge to praise

you would seek me out,
then press your faint hand
reverently against

the ancient hide of my bark.
In a hundred years
your touch will travel through

each ring of my immense
armored heart, to tell me
you were here.

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