The Crepe Myrtle

To see the stump there in the yard,
Its edges barely higher than the grass,
You’d never know the tree that made
A stand in that spot for so long.

You might, when seeing flowered sprouts
From that dead trunk, imagine it;
But unless you’d seen it growing,
For you there would not be much tree.

Imagining is not knowing.

To know, you’d have to see the way
It stood, for years, attempting height,
Pushing its branches to the wires
That crossed the lawn from street to house;

And one time, just to keep it free
From in the electricity
A man had come with a ladder
To amputate its reaching arms.

But it was already half dead,
Thanks to the efforts of a boy
Who’d swung a cruel baseball bat
Straight at its chest some time ago.

And though it bravely put out blooms
In spring and then again in fall
The termites finished up the job
And hollowed it, primed it to fall.

And then, the hurricane rolled in.
Although I could have with a push
Snapped its rotted wood, I did not.

It was the wind that brought it down,
With a loud crack, right where the car
Might have been, had we not pulled
It off the drive, safe from the rain.

I had to saw it up and lay
The pieces by the curb as trash,
Shave the split stump down to the ground
And stuff the hole left with spare sod.

Sure, it was dying, or near dead,
But it made a nice bit of shade
Against the kitchen windows,
And colored our bit of front lawn
With bright fuschia-colored blossoms.

Next to the old stump, a young tree
Is growing; we planted it there
A spring ago. It will not shade
Us all that soon, but when it does
We will have a far greater need:
For as it, like the myrtle did,
Reaches out to touch the bright sky
We will be slowing down and old.

It will be quite nice to sit down
In the shadow of that dogwood,
And remember the crepe myrtle.

23 AUG 2003

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