Elegy for the Sycamores II: Before the Fires Take Them

Year after year I return to sit
by this old stream bed framed in sycamore trees
and watch as they slowly let go of their leaves
to begin their long and silent good-byes.


My elders, the tribe of the sycamore tree—
they watched over us throughout our childhood
as godparents, when they patiently stood
in our yard and promised us shade and breeze.


And now I wander through mounds of their leaves,
each one as large as a grown man’s hand
that seems to be open, to extend
and let go of hope and the grace we need,


while a hawk above me screams at the past
and rages at this mute moment in time
when I must be parent, the tree is the child.
And the magnitude of that duty is vast,


the autumn of earth descending so fast
that I sink into leaves and my soul is dry
as their crisp closing fists and the old stream bed,
the burnt brown meadow and barren cloud heads.


And I beg of the climate gods:
Please tell me why.





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