May Poem

The Arborist

The arborist: “This tree is nearly eighty

years old, and bound to fail. Put in when folks

developed Rosemont Street — all up and down

the yards the same — the maples, oaks, and firs.

No wonder she lost this limb.” I almost said

I’m seventy-one myself, with lanky limbs

that take me loping ’round the block three times

A week. I hoped he’d say, “Pas possible!”

(His name’s duBois!); instead he said, “See?

You know exactly what I mean.” Mark laughed.

“So what’s the fastest growing tree?” he asked

duBois. “The sycamore. It grows six feet a year,

and when it’s done, it’s sixty feet, providing shade

like this poor maple.” Poor maple. Such girth

I wouldn’t call it poor, but Mark had feared

the insides rotted out; duBois concurred.

We paid him then to take old maple down

and plant the slender sycamore. We’ll have

to move the chairs elsewhere in the yard,

and get a large umbrella for our shade.

Or else we’ll sit all summer under the

porch roof, coaxing the tree to grow. And I’ll

be eighty-one when sycamore is done,

or else bequeath it to new owners, just

as when I think of our beloved Hannah —

who’s twelve and growing, too — bequeathed by us

to other tenders of emerging things,

those who never knew us — we, the arborists,

who sit where someone sat in nineteen

thirty-eight and watched a little maple grow.

— Paul Lamar

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