Tree O’clock

Puny humans depend on trees
as our only real visible geologic clocks.

Rings of gold.
Come and go.
but we can count the eons
in Sequoias reaching to a B.C. sky
cast into stone by forces
far beyond our frail comprehension
Of time.

on the lonely prairie,
on brownish lawns
where so few reside,
trees become like pets
Or offspring.

Measuring the decades rolling on
our dining room windows.

In Denver,
My folks’
150 year old Maples
felled by lumberjack’s chainsaws.
the vacuum of shade
brings my folks to tears.

for they remember all of us growing together
kids climbing the titans,
peering into bees’ nests,
building tree houses from scavenged 2x4s.
shoved from saddles,
by wise old horses
who swung riders under low branches,
tearing us off against rough bark.

Junipers along the front door,
leaning far onto the porch,
pushed by ever present north winds
Hide our comings and goings
shelter from noise and nosy neighbors.

errant Elms form a briar hedge
choking out the garden herbs.
hiding us away from spying eyes.
We bring to sheltered courtyards
Aspen and blue spruce
to breathe of mountained air

even our children reaching to touch doorways
doesn’t register like the
Oak tree
once a sprig
now towering over the chimney.
We can remember planting twigs of ash,
but it’s hard to remember our 30th birthday party.
our dogs, now 75 in arbor years,
can’t wrestle their wooden hips
to move from ashen shade.

microbursts and straight line winds
snap them cruelly
send the tops sailing to another county.
lightning splits an Elderberry
at the fork.
in Arizona,
Pinion Pines tear in dust storms.
In Iowa,
torrents erode cottonwood roots
Criss crossing along flooded creeks.
Like friends meeting with disaster.
We feel clocks tick within.

Oh, we have the battery powered timers
digital readouts on arms.

But trees
Are the only
Real, visible clocks
The only ones we really look at
The only ones we really understand.

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