Alan Keitt

You came a volunteer

when the fires no longer scourged the wiregrass

and chased old gopher turtle down his hole

You saw it didn't you -

The felling of the longleaf pines for the field

a hundred years ago

You heard the lathering mule grunt

as the straight plow hung on the grandaddy rock

You felt it didn't you -

as they ringed your roots

with the rocky spawn of the field

You saw the rough stone pilings

and the raw cypress boards and battens

You saw it when the rusty roof was shiny new

and the Pecan trees were full of nuts

You heard it, didn't you -

when the singing stopped and the prayers began

and all the laughter and the tears

You saw them leave

following mama's body

down the old mail road

for the last time

You saw us too - didn't you

digging lighter stumps

to free the buried sunlight

of two centuries

in my stove

But at the center of your triune trunk

there came a moldering,

only a crack at first

One night, alone

with the abandoned house

and the fields fallow

your mossy beard

began to stream eastward

Was it a roiling front that came

or the summer's anvil cloud

You leaned with it

as a thousand times before

and just never came back up

Soon the last of your Siamese siblings

split off balance and wounded at the core

will lean its way one last time

And from the new light

above the ruin

of your descended majesty

the birds will come

as jewels for your shroud.


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