The sycamores have surrendered their leaves
and I tell her they’re deep into winter sleep,
though inside I worry for these naked trees—
the sentinels of a time that has passed.
“Why do you care about nature so much?”
she asks as we walk through a dry stream bed.
With careful footing around stream boulders
I manage to sidestep complete honesty
and try to protect this five-year-old child.
How can I tell her that care is urgent
now that nature is threatened with death—
that the passion I feel is more intense
when it’s almost too late, when loss becomes real?
Soon enough she may live in an age when
little is left of these trees except ash,
the Southwestern sky is often smoke grey
and life is a dry stream of regret.
So I cling to my lie like fungus on trees.
I pretend for us both I’ve borrowed her world
to be returned in good enough shape
like a puzzle returned with one piece gone.
But I bury the lie when I need to sleep.
It’s hard enough now just to live with my grief.