by Jonathan Hazelton
I climbed it once, jumped up to a broken limb,
Hauled myself up and climbed high enough
I could see out over hills and streams
That wound like ribbons between them.
This was only a few years before it fell to ruin,
Wind gusts getting hold of it, knocking it down,
And it just lay and rotted where it fell.
For years I wanted to climb it,
But never worked up nerve it being close
To a hundred feet tall and as many years old.
One day, there for a funeral, I put fear aside
And climbed as high as I could where limbs were solid
(you could already see death taking it over:
Rotting bark, blackened branches empty of needles,
Or needles so dead and dry they turned brown),
And perched between two limbs like a huge bird.
That was the first and only time I climbed it
Knowing it didn’t have much time left,
It being for the most part dead, ready to fall.
Up there on green branches,
I seemed to float above the world, above fear,
And above all shortcomings I ever had
Wind rustling hair the way it stirred needles
And swayed the springy limbs I perched on.
That was thirty-five years ago, and much
Of what I knew and was used to then is gone now,
And with it the twin trunked pine that stood
For centuries overshadowing the farm
Like an angel that blessed us, that blesses us still.