Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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Haddam Poet Laureate: The Ash Tree and Axe Men

by Lorraine Riess

The Ash Tree and Axe Men

Your grey remains stand imposing, impressive
but now you’re a threat to the roof of my home.
The countryside’s filled with so many like you.
Emerald borers ate their way to your heart
caterpillars tented in the angles of your arms
stripping you bare two summers ago.

Your winter silhouette matched the maples.
Your snowy ermine shoulders bestowed grace.
This spring the fledglings found your leafless state
much easier to navigate.
Wild grape and bittersweet now use
your fractured bark as their ladder to the sun .

I imagine your roots gripping the bank of the creek
where the rot of your leaves became your own feast
when the sparkling laughter of daughters
played make-believe in the shade of your canopy.

After they lop off your lichened arms
they will take to your trunk in earnest.
You will drop to the ground with a crack and thud
a momentary earthquake to mark your passing.
Counted rings will reveal your age
to tell me which family nurtured you.

This is no Joyce Kilmer moment.
Your stump will become a tombstone.
My neighbor will cart your pieces away
to split and stack before winter.
You’ll burn next year
tendering one last comfort:
I’ll smell your smoke from his chimney.

Lorraine Riess

Lorraine Riess is current poet laureate of Haddam and invites your submission in HK-Now for publication. You may email submissions to: lcfriess@att.net. All poetry should be no longer than 30 lines (one page). Include a short bio of 75 words or less. You will be notified by email if your work is selected. All work is copyrighted by the author.

Her collection of poems Still Life With Wings has been published and is available from her website or Amazon.  The book contains a few poems that relate to Haddam and its history, as well as the environment and other topics.

 

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