Pythagoras Consults with the Swifts

by Lee Slonimsky

Tree’s lean is forty-five degrees, as though
it worships slant more than the bright noon sun,
or maybe it just loves geometry. 

No matter storms, how hard their fierce gales blow,
its angle’s fixed; and nothing he knows can
explain such daring, yet stability.

He’s looked at roots, trunk width, the shapes of leaves,
and even asked the swifts who congregate
on branch-diagonals.  They cannot say
just why a tree has grown this other way.

 Quite stubbornly, he tries to calculate
some formula for slant; math’s what he loves.
This oak must love it too, they all decide—
hypotenuse—the source of leafy pride!